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Lancaster plays down Lions effect
England head coach Stuart Lancaster believes the British and Irish Lions' success last summer will have little effect on Australia's desire to retain the Cook Cup.
The Wallabies visit Twickenham for Saturday's opening QBE International reeling from seven defeats in their 10 matches this year, although they have faced a succession of top quality opposition.
Seven England players were involved in the Lions' series-clinching triumph in Sydney in July, five of them arriving off the bench in the second half.
"I'm not expecting a backlash because the Lions are unique," Lancaster said. "Australia will not look at us any more personally than they would Wales. They will enjoy the challenge of coming to Twickenham.
Australia triumphed 20-14 at Twickenham last November and it is that result that Lancaster believes has greater relevance to Saturday than the tourists' difficulties this year.
"The Wallabies are improving massively in their quality of performances. I saw them play Argentina and New Zealand and they were right up there," he said.
"We know we face a massive threat against them. They're a good side with quality players. We won't be taking them for granted - we lost to them last year.
"This is a very competitive Australia side with 500-600 caps, but having said that we are at Twickenham. We will be quietly confident about what we are going to do.
"There has been a lot of talk about our last match against New Zealand, but our only focus is Australia. It's important to get up to speed as soon as possible."
Lancaster names his team to face Australia on Thursday morning with the second row, back three and scrum-half the main areas of scrutiny.
Either Geoff Parling or Joe Launchbury will be selected to start alongside Courtney Lawes at lock and there is a shootout between Ben Youngs and Lee Dickson at scrum-half.
Wings Chris Ashton and Marland Yarde and full-back Mike Brown look set to make up the back three.