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England confident McConnochie will put injuries behind him ahead of World Cup

Uncapped McConnochie is still waiting to make his England debut after injuries prevented the Bath wing from playing in both Tests against Wales.

Ruaridh McConnochie is still waiting to make his England debut ahead of the World Cup (Ben Birchall/PA)
Ruaridh McConnochie is still waiting to make his England debut ahead of the World Cup (Ben Birchall/PA)

By Nick Purewal, PA

England are confident injuries will not derail rookie Ruaridh McConnochie’s World Cup bid.

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Bath wing McConnochie has seen his Test debut thwarted twice in as many weeks, with first a hip issue then a hamstring complaint denying making his international bow.

The 27-year-old missed both England’s warm-up matches against Wales – and will now also sit out Saturday’s Twickenham clash with Ireland.

But attack coach Scott Wisemantel has insisted England have no qualms about his readiness for the fast-approaching tournament in Japan, having already named their 31-man squad.

“Look, in a way, we already know what Ruaridh can do,” said Wisemantel. “We’ve seen him in the Premiership and in the Sevens on the big stage.

“So I’m confident he’ll fit in really well, but it would just be nice to get him out there.

“It’s like anyone in the 31, we need to see them play, but with his prep it was just one of those unlucky things.

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Injuries have prevented McConnochie from make his England debut against Wales on two occasions (Andrew Matthews/PA)

“It was the second to last play in the run, and he just pulled up and felt it tighten up a wee bit.

“He knew it probably wasn’t right, then after the scans it was a tiny little tear. It’s a minor hamstring issue. We’re just trying to get him right.

“To have two false starts like that, we want to make sure he’s got the best possible prep, to do him justice.”

England will host Ireland at Twickenham on Saturday bidding to hit back after last week’s 13-6 loss to Wales in Cardiff.

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England fell to a 13-6 defeat to Wales in Cardiff last week (Adam Davy/PA)

Prop Mako Vunipola is in contention to make his comeback from the hamstring injury he suffered in Saracens’ Heineken Champions Cup final victory over Leinster in May.

Henry Slade and Jack Nowell will miss out through injury again, though Mark Wilson could be fit after a rib complaint.

Playmaker Slade is battling to shake off a toe problem, while his Exeter team-mate and British and Irish Lion Nowell has been sidelined since the Premiership final with knee and ankle issues.

Tom Curry and Sam Underhill are both available for selection, leaving head coach Eddie Jones with another chance to pair the two natural openside flankers in the same back row.

“We’re looking at Italy for Slade, everything going well,” said Wisemantel.

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Tom Curry looks set to return for England against Ireland (Adam Davy/PA)

“Wilson could potentially be ready this weekend, and Curry and Underhill are likely to be available for selection.”

England’s attack guru Wisemantel expects Ireland to pitch up at Twickenham at something approaching full strength.

“Obviously the hit-out against Italy was a mixed team, so I’d expect he’ll go a lot stronger, probably quite hard, Joe Schmidt,” said Wisemantel.

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England won 32-20 against Ireland in Dublin during this year’s Six Nations (Brian Lawless/PA)

“These warm-ups can be like games of poker. But they are still Test matches. You want to win them, and you’re disappointed when you don’t.

“You want to win but at the same time you want to hold some things back.

“So it is like a game of chess at the moment, but you certainly want to get out there and try some things that you think might work, experiment a little bit. So that’s where we’re at at this stage.”

PA

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