- Title: England chilled over Vunipola fitness for France clash
- Date: 7th October 2019
- Summary: TOKYO, JAPAN (OCTOBER 7, 2019) (REUTERS) ENGLAND RUGBY WORLD CUP SQUAD PASSING AT TRAINING ENGLAND COACH EDDIE JONES WATCHING TEAM TRAIN VARIOUS OF ENGLAND RUGBY SQUAD TRAINING (SOUNDBITE) (English) ENGLAND WORLD CUP SQUAD SCRUM COACH, NEAL HATLEY SAYING ON BILLY VUNIPOLA: "We assessed him after the game. We gave him 24 hours to just to see where that gets to. So, yeah, he's got another probably 24 hours up until tomorrow and then we'll make a firm diagnosis from there. So, he's seen the physio this morning. He's around, walking around, a big smile on his face - but it's nearly lunchtime so he's pretty happy. But, he's all good. So, like I said, we'll know a lot more by Tuesday." VARIOUS OF ENGLAND TEAM IN HUDDLE ON PITCH (SOUNDBITE) (English) ENGLAND WORLD CUP SQUAD SCRUM COACH, NEAL HATLEY SAYING: "I think, you plan for all eventualities with what we've got with Ellis Genge, and Mako (Vunipola), Kyle Sinckler, Maro Itoje, Courtney Lawes. People pick up the slack, like you have to. When Mako hasn't played or Billy. We played a lot of rugby. He's obviously been an important figure for us but, people pick up the slack." VARIOUS OF HOOKERS JAMIE GEORGE AND JACK SINGLETON PRACTISING LINEOUT THROWS (SOUNDBITE) (English) ENGLAND RUGBY WORLD CUP SQUAD HOOKER, JAMIE GEORGE SAYING: "I think from a forwards perspective it poses potentially a different challenge to what we faced. Maybe, maybe similar to Tonga in terms of pure weight of their pack. Obviously gives them, I guess a benefit at scrum time and mall time. So, we're aware of that threat. I think you look at traditional French rugby, they're very proud of their set piece and having big men like that obviously helps them. I'd say we aren't the smallest. We pride ourselves on our physicality as well so it's certainly going to be a very physical test and something that we going to make sure we going to need to get." ENGLAND SQUAD AT TRAINING (SOUNDBITE) (English) ENGLAND WORLD CUP SQUAD SCRUM COACH, NEAL HATLEY SAYING ON JOE MARLER: "No, we're not sure. There's a little bit of (pain) referral in his back. So, we will see where that is. Joe was coming off at that point anyway. So, like I said, we'll know a bit more tomorrow." COACH EDDIE JONES WATCHING SQUAD TRAIN
- Embargoed: 21st October 2019 10:32
- Keywords: England France Billy Vunipola World Cup Japan Rugby
- Location: TOKYO, JAPAN
- City: TOKYO, JAPAN
- Country: Japan
- Topics: Rugby Union,Sport
- Reuters ID: LVA001B03JEPR
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:England are awaiting the outcome of tests on Billy Vunipola's injured ankle ahead of their final World Cup pool clash with France on Saturday but are comfortable that others can step into the ball-carrying void should the number eight not make it, said scrum coach Neal Hatley.
The 26-year-old started his 12th straight match, and seventh in two months, for England in Saturday's 39-10 victory over Argentina but left the field in pain at halftime after twisting his left ankle.
With England already safely through, and preparing for a game where defeat would be anything but a disaster, coach Eddie Jones is unlikely to take the slightest risk on Vunipola - the one player in the squad where there is no real direct cover.
Mark Wilson would be the likely replacement and, though he has had an excellent year and is a fearsome tackler, he does not possess the ball-carrying skills of Vunipola.
Hooker Jamie George has also developed into a dangerous open-field runner and said Jones had talked to the team about the changing situation at halftime against Argentina.
England's only other injury worry concerns prop Joe Marler but initial concerns that he had damaged a hamstring proved unfounded.
Jones will name his team on Thursday for Saturday's match and it would surprise nobody if he kept his cards close to his chest about both injured players until the team sheet is published.
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