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The Sport Matrix: Friday 1 November 2013

Lancaster calls for England to impress in ‘defining year’

England head coach Stuart Lancaster has called on his side to impress against Australia in tomorrow’s Test at Twickenham as they look to gain momentum for the 2015 World Cup.

Lancaster feels that if England are to mount a serious challenge at the home World Cup, this autumn series – with Tests against the Wallabies, Argentina and New Zealand over the next three weekends –  is a “momentum moment”. 

“This is a defining year for us,” Lancaster (above) said yesterday. “We can’t make the mistake of waiting a game or two before getting up to speed. It’s our job to be ready for the here and now.”

Meanwhile, blindside flanker Ben Mowen will captain Australia tomorrow after James Horwill was surprisingly relieved of the post, with Quade Cooper named as vice-captain.

“I was a bit speechless,” Cooper, the outside-half who played no part in the Lions series, admitted yesterday after being told of his promotion. “To have that title next to your name is pretty special.” MORE

England’s tall bowling attack toil

England’s bowlers endured an exacting first day of their Ashes tour match as a Western Australia Chairman’s XI made 369-4. Chris Tremlett, Steve Finn and Boyd Rankin – all of them at least 6ft 7in tall – took 1 for 245 between them in 53 overs. MORE

Rodgers confident ahead of key clash

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers believes the club are improving as they prepare for tomorrow’s top-of-the-table league meeting with Arsenal at the Emirates. Rodgers said: “We have shown that we have quality in the team, that we’ve got a winning mentality.” MORE

Troubled Phillips focuses on Wales

Mike Phillips is eager to move on after being sacked by French club Bayonne for allegedly turning up drunk to a video analysis session. “It’s frustrating the way it finished, obviously,” he said. “I’m just moving on, as a professional sportsman that’s what you have to do.” MORE

Murray receives help from Chelsea

Andy Murray has revealed he has been receiving treatment at Chelsea’s training base in Cobham as part of his rehabilitation following the back surgery he underwent six weeks ago. “It’s been a massive help for me,” said the world No 3. MORE

England’s women thrash Turkey

England recorded their fourth straight World Cup qualifying win with a 4-0 victory over Turkey, featuring a stunning goal from Eniola Aluko. The result gives the FA more reason to consider hiring interim coach Brent Hills full-time. MORE

Graham returns after being axed

Forward James Graham is back in the England team for tomorrow’s World Cup match against Ireland after being dropped for disciplinary reasons at the start of the tournament. Sean O’Loughlin and Tom Briscoe will also be involved. MORE

McIlroy backs Woods over jibe

Rory McIlroy has defended Tiger Woods against accusations of being “cavalier with the rules” by pundit Brandel Chamblee. McIlroy said: “He [Chamblee] was out of line and something should be done about it.” MORE

Rafael Benitez

The former Liverpool manager gives his views on strikers Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge – and explains why he doesn’t need to respond to Sir Alex Ferguson’s comments.

Debutant Tomkins set for new test

Joel Tomkins believes the skills he developed playing rugby league with Wigan served him well as he prepares to makes his England debut against Australia tomorrow.

“It was always a goal of mine to make the England squad,” he said. “I’d played a lot of my rugby league in the pack, but when the Wigan coach moved me to centre – we were a bit skinny on numbers in the position at the time – I realised the skills would be transferable to union, what with playing in the same areas of the pitch and often being the last or second- to-last defenders.” MORE

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