Rugby World Cup: England pair Mako Vunipola and Jack Nowell thought their Japan 2019 dream was over after nightmare injuries

The Sun Sports 2 months ago

MAK and Jack are back – after both thinking injuries left them struggling to even make it to the Far East.

The fit-again world-class pair of Mako Vunipola and Jack Nowell stepped off the bench against 14-men Argentina to give England’s World Cup tilt a huge boost.

Jack Nowell was a major plus for England, confirming his fitness and form with the fifth try against Argentina

For the second game running skipper Owen Farrell was targeted with a high shot from Tomas Lavanini that could have ended his tournament.

It was also a cheap shot to the jaw that surely effected the skipper as he then missed his next four kicks and played poorly.

So prop and winger Vunipola and Nowell know just how lucky they are to be here – as both thought their Japan 2019 dream was over after a summer from hell.

Saracens star Vunipola had hamstring surgery after winning the Champions Cup for the third time in June.

But his England comeback lasted just one game as he damaged scar tissue against Ireland in the warm-ups.

When asked if he thought his World Cup was over before it had started, the 28-year-old said: “I had a fear that that could be it.

“I didn’t really know exactly and didn’t understand what had happened.

“When I had the scan and got the results back it wasn’t ideal, but luckily the specialist was able to clear it up and I am just happy to be here now and get that game under my belt.

“It took two days. I had the scan straight after the game on the Sunday and found out the results on the Sunday afternoon and then didn’t find out what the specialist said until the Tuesday – so there was a bit of waiting around.

“It was touch and go and the first week was tough.

Eddie Jones can be happy England are the first team into the World Cup quarter-finals, but is less sure about the fitness of Billy Vunipola

“I was leaning on family and friends, but luckily here I have some good mates in the team and people start taking notice if you start to pull yourself away, they pull you back in.

“I always knew there was a target to be involved in this game. It was more a mental challenge than anything else.

“The physios and medical staff had every confidence I would be ready.

“As players you are very impatient and you want to get out there straightaway and when you see the boys going so well in training and in games you want to be a part of that.”

Vunipola came on in the 64th minute for Joe Marler, and immediately gave away a penalty at his first scrum as he admitted he was rusty.

Luckily, England were already well in control and 25-3 up with the game done and dusted by then.

Exeter Chiefs ace Nowell made his 10-minute cameo count as he finished off a superb try, diving over in the corner and scoring the fifth of six tries on a day that England became the first side into the quarter-finals.

Nowell, when asked if he also thought he wouldn’t make it to Japan after ankle then appendix surgery, said: “A lot of times.

“I had my appendix out. I’ve been close to coming back, then I hit a hurdle. I’ve always wanted to be here, I’ve driven so hard to try to be involved in this World Cup.

Mako Vunipola also made his England return in the Argentina hammering

“They were just hurdles, something I had to overcome to get myself involved again.

“Being backed by Eddie was important as well. I could quite easily have been sent home, but they spent a bit of time on me and to be able to give back is very nice.”

Nowell also credited the England’s physios for patching him and Vunipola up and keeping their spirits high during lengthy boring and frustrating days on the treatment table.

He added: “I’m very thankful for the hard work the physios have put in, the people around me.

“I’ve always felt very involved in the squad still. It’s very easy to slip out and feel a bit isolated when you’re injured.

“But what we’ve been very good at this World Cup is how together we are. To finally repay a bit back with the boys is good.

“Our physio Doss, James O’Sullivan, has been very, very good to me.

“All the physios have been very good, but Doss has looked after me and Mako especially – a lot of hands on, lots of hours spent with me, a lot of hours with Mako.

“It is down to the whole squad that it could have been very easy for me to have felt isolated and not felt part of this team, but that has not been the case at all.
“At the start probably I would say 80 per cent of my with time was with Doss and the physios doing rehab, rehab running, rehab sessions.

“It feels a bit weird now because I am flying the nest away from him but he is always there to look after us.”


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