Macqueen opts for pace of Williams

The very best tend to make their own rules rather than follow everyone else's, so there were no reports of shockwaves in south-west London yesterday when the Australia coach, Rod Macqueen, decided to fly in the face of received wisdom by changing a winning side. Jim Williams, born in the New South Wales town of Young but now very definitely in the veteran category, will replace Matt Cockbain in the world champions' back row against England at Twickenham on Saturday.

The very best tend to make their own rules rather than follow everyone else's, so there were no reports of shockwaves in south-west London yesterday when the Australia coach, Rod Macqueen, decided to fly in the face of received wisdom by changing a winning side. Jim Williams, born in the New South Wales town of Young but now very definitely in the veteran category, will replace Matt Cockbain in the world champions' back row against England at Twickenham on Saturday.

"Jim has been one of our most powerful runners all year, and he could give us some early attacking opportunities," said Macqueen, whose choice of the word "early" suggested that Cockbain, his preferred blind-side flanker for the last three years, will get a run at some point during the game. The Wallabies clearly intend to meet muscle with muscle; the combination of the 30-year-old Williams and the Tongan-born No 8 Toutai Kefu will ensure a degree of parity in the grunt and groan department. However, Cockbain is a useful line-out forward whose athleticism might prove priceless in the latter stages of a tight game.

Williams is a born-again loosie who began his senior career as an out-and-out wing. He played a season at West Hartlepool in 1994-95 - rather a shock to the system for someone with an Australian's winning habit - before flying home to sample Super 12 with the New South Wales Waratahs. He quickly graduated to the Wallabies' World Cup Sevens squad, won a Commonwealth Games bronze medal as a short game specialist in 1998 and then completed a wholly unexpected climb to the top of the tree by winning a first cap against Ireland last year.

Macqueen's assumption that England will ask some serious physical questions is further reflected in his bench selection, where there is a five-two split between forwards and backs. Elton Flatley, the outside-half from Queensland, would presumably have held his place among the replacements but for the wrist injury he suffered at Murrayfield last weekend. In his absence, however, the coach has named three back-five forwards - Cockbain, Mark Connors and the uncapped breakaway Phil Waugh - and restricted his wider options to a bare minimum. Chris Whitaker, the scrum-half, and Nathan Grey will be the only non-forwards on the touchline.

Up in Scotland, Ian McGeechan took the more familiar course of changing a losing side by making four alterations to the team beaten by the Australians five days ago. Kenny Logan, the Wasps wing who must have thought his Test career was done and dusted when he was drummed out of last season's Six Nations line-up, replaces the inexperienced Jon Steel against Samoa on Saturday, while the gigantic Richard Metcalfe takes over from the merely huge Stuart Grimes in the second row. Jason White, so impressive on his debut against England in the Calcutta Cup match back in April, returns to the blind-side flank, while Jon Petrie shifts to No 8 for Simon Taylor, who has a broken hand.

On the club front, Pontypridd became the latest side to lure a big-name international away from rugby league by signing Alan Hunte, the former Great Britain wing, from Warrington. With Kieron Cunningham, the St Helens hooker, indicating that he might cross the divide sooner rather than later, the trickle of 13-man defections is in danger of becoming a flood.

"I feel this is going to be an exciting time in my career," said Hunte, who, at 30, will have to learn fast if he is to capture of the imagination of the partisan die-hards at Sardis Road. "I've trained with Ponty this week and I am most impressed with their dedication and commitment."

* Bernard Gadney, the former England captain and Leicester scrum-half, has died at the age of 91. He was England's oldest surviving international player and the oldest international captain in the world. Gadney won 14 caps between 1932 and 1938, leading his country eight times, most notably during a Triple Crown-winning season in 1934.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable