England include Mako Vunipola and Jack Nowell in matchday squad for key Argentina clash

Evening Standard Sports 1 month ago

England have opted to include the fit-again Mako Vunipola and Jack Nowell on the bench for their key Rugby World Cup clash against Argentina in Tokyo on Saturday.

Vunipola and Nowell are yet to play in the tournament having been laid low with hamstring and ankle injuries respectively.

Nowell has not played since the Premiership Final on June 1, while Vunipola has just 17 minutes under his belt – in the summer Test against Ireland – since limping off in the Champions Cup Final in May. 

They are held on the bench, along with Henry Slade, who missed England’s last match against USA with a recurrence of the knee injury that kept him out of all four summer Tests. 

Joe Marler starts for the third straight match in Vunipola’s loosehead position, meaning there is no place for the rampaging Ellis Genge.

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Nowell and Slade pip Joe Cokanasiga and the in-form Jonathan Joseph to places on the bench, while Lewis Ludlam – who was superb in the seven-try win over USA – pips Mark Wilson to the No20 shirt. Ludlam provides cover for Tom Curry and Sam Underhill on the flanks.

As expected, George Ford and Owen Farrell team up at No10 and 12, inside Manu Tuilagi. The back three is full-back Elliot Daly and wings Jonny May and Anthony Watson.

George Kruis and Maro Itoje are reunited at lock, with Courtney Lawes preferred to Joe Launchbury on the bench. 

“We are in Tokyo for the first time and the players are excited to be here and have had a good week’s preparation so far,” said Jones. “We know Argentina are a very good team and our players will be ready for the game.  

“Argentina is a completely different team from others we have played so far in the pool stages and are always about the physical contest. This week it’s about getting our game right, our set piece in a good place and making sure defensively we are organised and ready to find ways to score points against them.”

Meanwhile, Argentina have left fly-half Nicolas Sanchez out of their 23 for the match, with Benjamin Urdapilleta preferred. Julian Montoya is selected ahead of Agustin Creevy at hooker. 


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