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Rowntree hopes Morgan can find form

Published 11/08/2015

England number eight Ben Morgan ends his seven-month injury lay-off against France on Saturday
England number eight Ben Morgan ends his seven-month injury lay-off against France on Saturday

Graham Rowntree hopes Ben Morgan can rediscover the form that lit up England's autumn when he makes his long-awaited comeback from injury against France on Saturday.

Morgan starts at number eight for the opening instalment of three World Cup warm-up matches in what will be his first appearance since breaking his leg on club duty for Gloucester in January.

The fracture was a cruel blow as little over a month earlier he had produced the best rugby of his career with his three tries against Australia and Samoa rewarded by his coronation as England's player of the series.

The 26-year-old has been involved in full contact training for the past fortnight - he only resumed running last month - and Rowntree insists France's visit to Twickenham is the time to gauge his progress.

"Ben is ready for a game, I know that from seeing him over the last couple of days. He's trained exceptionally well," England's forwards coach said.

"He's had a long lay off and it's not been the easiest thing because it was a nasty injury, but he's trained well. He's in the shape of his life.

"We'll have to see how he performs at the weekend. Crucially, we just need to get him back on the field playing rugby.

"I can't wait to see him with the ball in his hands at the weekend. He's ready and has had a great attitude. We're excited to see him play.

"He had a very good autumn series with his tries and we'd like him to continue that form, although he has been off for a long time."

England are using the first of two matches against France - the second is staged in Paris a week later - to examine combinations and give players game time, but Rowntree insists those objectives must not be achieved at the cost of victory.

"We want to win the game - it's France at Twickenham. We want to win all of these warm-up games," Rowntree said.

"We want to see all the stuff we've been doing on the field come together. The lads are ready for a match, believe me.

"And it's a big opportunity for many guys, in fact for all of them. We're looking at different combinations, so there are a lot of things that are up in the air for people."

England must submit their final 31-man World Cup squad by August 31 before concluding their programme of warm-up matches against Ireland at Twickenham on September 5.

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