David Pocock withdraws from England clash

Australia have been dealt a blow on the eve of their Cook Cup clash with England after David Pocock was withdrawn from the team because of a neck problem.

Pocock has been nursing the injury all season but it became more severe after taking a blow against Italy last weekend, making his involvement at Twickenham dependent on a fitness test today that he has failed.

The 30-year-old Brumbies number eight, an accomplished breakdown specialist, had been identified by England earlier in the week as Australia's greatest threat.

Pete Samu replaces Pocock in the Australia starting XV, whilst Marika Koroibete is added to the bench.

The turmoil in Australia's camp intensified today when head coach Michael Cheika confirmed that Kurtley Beale and Adam Ashley-Cooper were not considered for selection against England on disciplinary grounds.

The veteran Wallabies backs have been punished after Cheika was told they had brought women into their hotel room in Cardiff. They lost 9-6 to Wales on November 10.

"It's a relatively minor rule we have and no third parties are involved, it's just inside our team," Cheika said.

"The leadership group came to me earlier in the week and asked me to deal with it in a way I thought was appropriate and I thought this was the appropriate way."

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