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Twenty of England’s matchday 23 will begin Friday night’s final Rugby World Cup warm-up game knowing than an injury will stand a very good chance of ruling them out of the flight to Japan fewer than 48 hours later.
England have come through their three warm-up matches to date without any serious injuries of note, although the fitness of Jack Nowell and Henry Slade remains a concern with neither playing a minute of rugby this summer and Mako Vunipola heading to Japan with doubts lingering over the state of his surgically-repaired hamstring.
With a trio of injury concerns on his hands already, Eddie Jones cannot realistically afford to carry any more players who will be unfit for part of the World Cup, and that feeling of nervousness could well reside deep within those in white – and blue – on Friday.
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But Anthony Watson, who this week returns to the full-back berth that he has not filled for England since the final match of the 2018 Six Nations, insists that the team will have got that fear out of their minds in order to minimise the risk of it actually happening.
“You can’t worry about it and I’m not worried about it,” said Watson. “As soon as you start going into contact at 85 per cent and start worrying about making sure you get on the plane on Sunday, you won’t play as well as you can and you’d probably get injured anyway.”
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