Two years after leaving Australia, former Sydney University skipper Guy Porter is in-line to make his debut for England against the Wallabies on Saturday night.
The 25-year-old left the Brumbies after the onset of Covid-19 and having starred for Leicester during their Premiership-winning run in June has been included on Eddie Jones’ bench.
Although he was born in England, Porter moved down under as a seven-year-old and had ambitions of playing for the Wallabies.
But after failing to garner any real interest from Australia’s Super Rugby teams he took up an offer to join Leicester on the recommendation of former Uni coach Rob Taylor.
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It didn’t take long for Porter, who never ran out for the Brumbies, to turn heads.
Now, he shapes as a key player in Jones’ bid to extend his eight-match stranglehold over the Wallabies.
“He’s done exceptionally well for his club and he’s in the champion club team,” Jones said.
“He played most of the year as winger, but in the last part of the season he played 12, so he’s got that versatility of being able to play 12-13 or winger, so he’s a great bench player for us.”
Jones denied he was in the business of “capturing players”, but said that Porter’s “hard” edge stood out.
The Australian, who coached the Wallabies from 2001-05, is under massive pressure to lead England to next year’s World Cup after consecutive “disappointing” Six Nations campaigns.
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Jones said “pressure” was a part of international coaching and added that all his counterparts were equally under the gun.
“Every international coach is under pressure,” Jones said.
“Dave’s (Rennie) under pressure, across the ditch (the All Blacks are) under pressure, I’m under pressure, but that’s part of the job that we like and enjoy and accept the responsibilities of that pressure.”
In a bid to get back on track Jones has changed skippers.
While Owen Farrell had not played since speaking England to another victory over the Wallabies last November, the 2019 World Cup skipper has been relieved of his captaincy duties with Courtney Lawes instead preferred.
Jones said the second playmaker, who starred in 2016 against Australia by scoring 66 points during the 3-0 series whitewash, was “very unhappy” to lose the captaincy.
Elsewhere, Danny Care returns for the first time since 2018 to partner young gun Marcus Smith in the halves.
Freddie Stewart has been named at fullback, while the Vunipola brothers – No.8 Billy and replacement loose-head prop Mako – who starred during the 2016 series win down under have also returned for the first time this year.
ENGLAND (15-1): Freddie Steward, Jack Nowell, Joe Marchant, Owen Farrell, Joe Cokanasiga, Marcus Smith, Danny Care, Billy Vunipola, Tom Curry, Courtney Lawes (c), Jonny Hill, Maro Itoje, Will Stuart, Jamie George, Ellis Genge
Reserves: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Mako Vunipola, Joe Heyes, Ollie Chessum, Lewis Ludlam, Jack van Poortvliet, Guy Porter, Henry Arundell