Ruaridh McConnochie’s England debut in doubt

Eddie Jones’ side play Wales on Saturday.

By Press Association Published: 16 August 2019 - 1.15pm


Rugby Union

Ruaridh McConnochie is a late doubt for England’s World Cup warm-up Test against Wales in Cardiff on Saturday because of muscle soreness.

McConnochie was due to make his international debut in the opening fixture of the build-up to Japan 2019 against Warren Gatland’s men last weekend but was withdrawn due to a hip problem.

The Bath wing, a sevens specialist who won a silver medal with Great Britain at the 2016 Olympics, is understood to be 50-50 to pull through.

“Ruaridh pulled up a bit sore today (Friday) so we’re not 100 per cent sure how he’ll be,” head coach Eddie Jones said.

England beat Wales at Twickenham last week

“We’ll find out later tonight. It’s not the same injury. He’s just sore, so we’ll find out about it.”

If McConnochie fails his fitness test, either Anthony Watson or Jonny May will be drafted straight into the starting XV to plug the gap on the right wing.

Watson made his comeback from a serious Achilles injury in the 33-19 rout of Wales last Sunday and performed well, while May was scheduled to miss both instalments of the double-header.

The third wing option in England’s 31-man squad that will depart for Japan on September 8 is Jack Nowell, but an ankle issue means he will not be available until the final warm-up against Italy at the earliest.

Anthony Watson, left, could profit from Ruaridh McConnochie's injury
Anthony Watson, left, could profit from Ruaridh McConnochie’s injury (Adam Davy/PA)

Jones delivered better news on Mako Vunipola, the loosehead prop who is poised to return from a significant hamstring injury sustained on Saracens duty in the latter stages of last season.

“Mako did a bit of extra work at the end of training today, a bit of contact work. A bit of defence work. He should get some time next weekend against Ireland,” Jones said.

Vunipola is England’s first choice loosehead prop and will be an automatic starter in the key matches of the World Cup.

A week ago, three late withdrawals forced Jones into a substantial reshuffle to his line-up and in reference to the delayed bus journey to Cardiff in this year’s Six Nations, the Australian hoped the team would not suffer any more setbacks.

“Ruaridh pulled up a bit sore today (Friday) so we're not 100 per cent sure how he'll be”
- Eddie Jones

“There are no more changes that I’m aware of at this stage, but it’s a long bus trip and they might put a few tractors in front so we don’t know what might happen,” Jones said.

“We’ve got a particular strategy we want to use against Wales, which is part of our World Cup strategy. We’ll see how we go.”

Jones swatted aside the prospect of England potentially climbing to the top of the world rankings if they topple Wales, despite stating since his appointment in 2015 that it was his number one aim leading into Japan 2019.

“All we’re worried about is playing well and getting prepared for the World Cup, that’s all we’re worried about. All those things don’t count now,” Jones said.