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Kruis and Wood return to England pack for Argentina clash

Published 24/11/2016

George Kruis returns for England against Argentina
George Kruis returns for England against Argentina

England have named George Kruis and Tom Wood in their pack for Saturday's penultimate autumn international against Argentina at Twickenham.

Kruis is restored to the second row after completing his recovery from ankle surgery and replaces Joe Launchbury, who is serving a two-match ban for kicking an opponent in last weekend's 58-15 victory over Fiji.

Wood ousts Teimana Harrison at openside flanker, a role he performed in the series opener against South Africa with his Northampton team-mate dropping to the bench in place of Nathan Hughes.

In total there are four changes to starting XV that routed Fiji, with Mike Brown preferred to Alex Goode at full-back and Jonny May displacing Semesa Rokoduguni on the right wing.

"Selection was interesting this week, but it shows how competitive and how much depth we are developing," head coach Eddie Jones said.

Kruis underwent surgery to correct a chronic ankle problem in mid-October and has made the quickest possible return, missing only the matches against South Africa and Fiji.

His comeback is well-timed given Launchbury's two-week ban and he packs down alongside Courtney Lawes and will resume with line-out calling duties.

It is the greater stopping power in defence that has sealed Wood's return because while Harrison's work-rate was high against Fiji, he was over-powered at times.

"George has worked really hard after his injury," Jones said.

"He has been a fine player for us and with Joe Launchbury's unfortunate but justified suspension, it's a great opportunity for George to find his feet again.

"Tom is a lively, committed player and that is what we are going to need against a big Argentinian pack."

England have explained the decision to drop Rokoduguni despite his two-try display against Fiji by highlighting flaws in his game that need addressing if he is to win a third cap.

"Roko has improved, we are really impressed with his progress, but there are areas of his game he needs to work on," Jones said.

"He needs to go back to Bath and work on those and if he does that he'll get another opportunity.

"We feel May and Brown are best against Argentina. Brown is a strong player in the air, he is strong defensively, carries the ball back hard and we are anticipating it is going to be a tough contest.

"Jonny May has got great finishing skills and we believe that is going to be important against Argentina."

England are targeting a 13th successive Test victory when Argentina visit Twickenham on Saturday.

Despite the Pumas finishing bottom in the recent Rugby Championship, Jones believes they are better than both Australia and South Africa.

The Grand Slam champions bring down the curtain on their autumn campaign against the Wallabies on December 3.

"This game against Argentina is a big step up for us as they were probably the second best team in the Rugby Championship. They played some exceptional rugby," Jones said.

"They are a quality team, have power in the forwards, speed and guile in the backs as well as great experience.

"We appreciate they have threats across the field and they have always been a physical, tough side.

"They still have their set-piece armoury in the scrum and line-outs so we're looking forward to a great game of rugby against them."

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