England expect to face New Zealand with fully fit squad

October 21, 2019 3:41:59 AM

England expect to face New Zealand in Saturday’s World Cup semi-final with a fully fit squad after delivering a positive bulletin on Jonny May and Jack Nowell.

In a huge lift to Eddie Jones’s Webb Ellis Trophy hopefuls, May and Nowell are on course to recover from knocks in time for the last four showdown at International Stadium Yokohama.

May suffered a minor hamstring injury during the closing stages of the 40-16 quarter-final victory over Australia, in which he celebrated his 50th cap by running two first-half tries.

Nowell made his comeback from an ankle complaint against Argentina more than two weeks ago only to damage a hamstring, forcing him to sit out the four-try demolition of the Wallabies.

“Jonny’s bouncing around this (Monday) morning. He has a small twinge and we’ll assess where he is a little bit later today,” assistant coach Neal Hatley said.

“He’s in really good spirits, moving well, and we expect Jack to be fit for selection as well. It’s fantastic where we are – all 31 being available for selection at the end of the week.”

England have also been boosted by Mako Vunipola’s return from the hamstring injury that limited him to 17 minutes of rugby since May 11 until he came on as a replacement against Argentina.

The Saracens prop was promoted into the starting XV against Australia and responded with a display brimming with high work rate and key interventions.

England v Argentina – Pool C – 2019 Rugby World Cup – Tokyo Stadium
England’s Jack Nowell on his way to scoring his side’s fifth try against Argentina (Adam Davey/PA)

“We were unbelievably impressed by Mako. He continues to go from strength to strength,” Hatley said.

“And he needs to because Ellis Genge and Joe Marler have been ferocious in training and everyone’s putting the pressure on.

“We’ve talked before about this team of 31 and everyone’s doing their part but Mako, when he plays well like he did, is a real force.

“Without sounding massively blase about it, I wasn’t surprised at the performance he turned in, but I can understand why people outside of our group would look at it and go ‘that’s a hell of a performance’.”

England name their team to face New Zealand on Thursday morning.

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