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Wednesday’s training session proved enough to convince Eddie Jones that Mako Vunipola and Jack Nowell are ready to make their 2019 Rugby World Cup bows against Argentina Rugby, having initially planned to leave them out of the England squad for a third match in a row.
Neither Vunipola nor Nowell have been available for selection so far this tournament due to injuries, with the former tearing his hamstring in May and the latter damaging ankle ligaments in June’s Premiership final.
Both went under the knife in an effort to get fit for the World Cup, with Jones taking a gamble on their recoveries by naming them in his final 31-man squad despite knowing they would not be available to play against Tonga and the United States. That absence looked set to increase with Jones prepared to leave them out of the matchday squad for Saturday’s clash with the Pumas, but their performances in training proved enough to force Jones into a U-turn.
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“They were still some way off but they trained really well yesterday,” Jones said on Thursday. “If they hadn’t trained as well yesterday we probably wouldn’t have picked them in the 23 but they showed they’re fit enough to make a really significant contribution to our outfit on Saturday.
“I say it every week – it’s the most difficult selection. We had 31 players competing hard for places. We had an outstanding training run yesterday and we’ve got eight disappointed players but they understand they have a massive role to play in supporting the team.
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