Thompson experience is vital says Dallaglio

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Lawrence Dallaglio believes Steve Thompson's experience of beating Australia will prove vital when England take on their old foes on Saturday.

Thompson will round off a remarkable comeback this weekend when he turns out for Martin Johnson's side in what will be his first international start in three years.

The hooker retired from the game in 2007 after picking up a serious neck injury but ignored the advice of medics and returned to the professional arena just one year later.

Thompson rediscovered his fitness and form at French club Brive and earned a recall to Martin Johnson's squad for this summer's Test against Argentina at Old Trafford.

Thompson will earn his 49th cap on Saturday and goes into the match having triumphed over the Australians four times in his seven-year international career.

The 31-year-old was an important part of the England team that beat Australia in the 2003 World Cup final and also has experience of beating the Wallabies both home and away.

Dallaglio believes Johnson's injury-ravaged squad will benefit greatly from Thompson's experience and winning mentality.

"He's one of the few players in the side that has beaten Australia. Not just once, but on a regular basis and he'll bring great leadership quality as well," the former England captain told Press Association Sport.

"The best thing is that he knows what it takes to get to the top of the world.

"Through no fault of their own, there's not a lot of players in that England squad who know or have ever breathed the rarefied air of being the best team in the world and he can sit down and explain to any of those players what it takes from a fitness point of view, what it takes mentally and physically to get there.

"He can tell them all the things they want to know because he worked very hard to get there so I think that's a really good selection and I'm glad he's in the squad."

Jonny Wilkinson will also make his return to the England fold after 18 months out with knee and hamstring injuries.

The last time he played alongside Thompson was in the victorious 2003 team. Dallaglio, who was also a member of that side, saluted Thompson's determination to earn back his place in the side

"What he has shown is a great resilience," said Dallaglio, who won 85 caps during a 12-year international career.

"I think he was told by one or two people that he shouldn't be playing but he has come back and he has been playing great in the French league, which has must have been tough for him."