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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.
“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.
“Conversely, the guys who have been selected need to support those guys. It’s a credit to our strength and conditioning staff and medical staff what a great condition we’re in. We’re six games into our World Cup preparations – four warm-up games and two World Cup games and we have 31 players to select from.”
Jones has decided to restore the bulk of the team that beat Tonga 35-3 in their World Cup opener, with the only change to that line-up being George Kruis’s selection at lock in place of Courtney Lawes, meaning there are nine changes to the side that defeated the USA last time out.
Opposite number Mario Ledesma sprung a surprise with his selection, choosing to leave out 79-cap fly-half Nicolas Sanchez from his squad and leaving 87-cap hooker Agustin Creevy on the bench, with just one change to the side that beat Tonga last weekend with Javier Ortega Desio returning at No 8 meaning that Benjamin Urdapilleta continues at stand-off.
“It’s an interesting team, a strong team,” noted Jones. “We know that Argentina are at their best at World Cups. Creevy spoke of a number things this
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