Chris Robshaw is destined to be sacrificed to clear the way for Maro Itoje's switch to England's back row and a recall at lock for Joe Launchbury against Australia.

The man who captained the national team at the World Cup last autumn missed the victory over Wales on May 29 to attend his brother's wedding and now he appears certain to be removed from the starting XV, despite his sterling contribution to the recent Grand Slam triumph.

Itoje is predominantly a lock, but the versatile rookie made his Test debut off the bench in Rome at blindside flanker and will again wear the No 6 shirt at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday.

Robshaw has missed only five matches since being made captain by Stuart Lancaster in February 2012 - and he was rested from four of those. In fact, before Eddie Jones arrived, the Harlequins flanker had completed all 80 minutes in 42 consecutive Tests.


Perhaps a symbol of the Lancaster era, a hard-working, loyal player who never quite had the star quality to tame the best back rows in world rugby, Robshaw was roundly dismissed by many following England's humiliating World Cup exit. Yet Jones built up the former captain on his arrival, while moving him into the No 6 shirt - a position in which he has rediscovered his form.

Now, a few months after identifying Robshaw as England's standout player of the Six Nations and challenging him to become the best blindside flanker in Europe, Jones is set to drop him.

Itoje's switch means Launchbury will come into the second row. The recall for the Wasps man would be reward for his fine form. He was man of the match in the win over Wales at Twickenham and would add power and breakdown clout to England's quest to stun the Wallabies in the first of three Tests Jones will announce his line-up on Thursday after the squad switch from their Gold Coast base to a new location in central Brisbane.

The other selection dilemma involves the 10-12 axis amid indications that England's management are preparing to unleash Ben Te'o in midfield, even though the Worcester-bound, cross-code centre is still being integrated after his rapid call-up.

That would almost certainly involve Owen Farrell being picked at fly-half in place of George Ford.

However, there was an untimely complication as Te'o missed Monday's first full-throttle training session of the tour due to a medical issue later explained as muscle soreness.

The former NRL team-mate of Sam Burgess at South Sydney Rabbitohs was expected to train on Tuesday.

Te'o, 29, would add another physical dimension as part of head coach Jones's desire to adopt a 'Bodyline' approach based on aggression and power. Defence coach Paul Gustard said: 'He's a big, physical guy. He has the intent to hit people, knock them back, dominate that gainline. That's in his DNA and he has that physical intent most defence coaches like.'

Asked if there was enough time to integrate Te'o before a possible Test debut on Saturday, Gustard added: 'Ben is experienced and has played at the highest level in rugby league, come over and played for one of the best sides in the Northern Hemisphere. His ability to take on info quickly is an asset to him. The boys have taken to him. He's a good lad, affable and pretty laid-back.

'Physically, we can see he has something different from the other players. We know he has a skill-set from playing for Leinster. But he also has a calmness from playing top-level rugby. He is a big guy who likes to make tackles, but also has nice footwork.'

Questions have been raised about Auckland-born Te'o's allegiance to the English cause after it emerged he also considered representing Australia only to be warned off by the prospect of another three-year residency qualification process.

He also weighed up playing for Ireland during his two-season stint with Leinster in Dublin. However, Gustard was satisfied he will be fully committed, following an initiation ceremony with the squad.

'He's made the decision to join an English club next season with Worcester,' he said. 'He's made the decision to come here on the England tour, he's not with Ireland or back with Australia. He has shown his allegiance by putting a foot in our camp. The boys may mock him, have a bit of fun with him, but I think his decision proves where he wants to be.'

Australia coach Michael Cheika declared he would have held back from picking Te'o.
'I spoke a fair bit to Ben before he went over to Leinster because it's my old club,' said Cheika. 'We'd have been keen to have him back in Australia but clubs over there have too much money. It shows where the money is in rugby when we as a national team can't compete with Worcester for a player.'