Mako Vunipola Jack Nowell and Mako Vunipola in frame for England as changes promised for France clash

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They are top of their pool with maximum points and were the first team to clinch a quarter-final place at this World Cup. But England are determined to remain upwardly mobile, which is where Jack Nowell and Mako Vunipola come in.

Not so long ago the pair were concerned casualties, but now they have returned to action as pedigree reinforcements. At times, both men feared they would not make it to Japan, but their persistence in drawn-out rehab led to comebacks on Saturday, as Argentina were put to the sword.

Eddie Jones selected Exeter wing Nowell and Saracens prop Vunipola in his squad of 31, in the hope that they would pull through in time to have a meaningful impact at this tournament.

Jack Nowell and Mako Vunipola have returned to action as pedigree reinforcements

Now, as the head coach seeks further improvements, he has two more Lions at his disposal for the clash with France in Yokohama in five days. England can be better, much better, but their predicament is a highly encouraging one.

While the Pumas were doomed once Tomas Lavanini had been rightly sent off at Tokyo Stadium, the victors stayed patient and systematically took them apart. It was their third consecutive bonus-point win. This was supposed to be a ‘pool of death’, remember?

Instead, the English campaign is gathering momentum. Four years ago, it had fallen off a cliff. No wonder Mako Vunipola was satisfied as he reflected on the contrast.

‘We spoke about that earlier,’ said the loosehead. ‘It’s just about savouring the feeling. It was very different four yea

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