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Dublin: 15°C Monday 14 June 2021

Mako back in Jones' squad as Pumas prepare for war with 'boring' England

“We believe our scrum can be a real weapon,” says Eddie Jones, “so hang on to your seats!”

THOUGH EDDIE JONES has named a near-identical side to the one who tore through Tonga on opening weekend, the presence of prop Mako Vunipola and back Jack Nowell on the bench is a major boost to England’s hopes in Japan.

The loosehead suffered a hamstring injury during Saracens’ Champions Cup final win over Leinster in May and aggravated the problem when he appeared off the bench against Ireland in August.

mako-vunipola-leaves-the-field-due-to-injury Mako Vunipola departs injured as England trounced Ireland. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The 28-year-old will hope his second attempt at a comeback is successful, he deputises for starting Joe Marler, one of six players to win consecutive starts after the 45-7 win over the USA. 

Exeter star Nowell is also looking forward to a run-out after an ankle injury in the Premiership final hampered his build-up. Jones admitted that Vunipola and Nowell were yet to reach peak fitness but tipped them to have an impact as England look to secure a quarter-final spot with one game to play.

“They’re still a way off but they trained really well yesterday and showed they’re fit enough to make really significant contributions.”

Jones will continue with the double playmaker strategy with captain Owen Farrell at inside-centre and George Ford at fly-half.

“We’ve had a lot more time to prepare compared to the last game so we can’t wait to play,” said Farrell.

“It will be a tough game but we’re prepared for any conditions thrown at us and to play any sort of rugby to win.”

Puma hooker Agustin Creevy — who earlier this week branded England’s rugby as “boring” and warned the game would be “like a war, like a final for us ” — was named among Argentina’s replacements.

If Creevy makes it onto the field on Saturday, he will break Argentina’s record for most caps. He is currently tied on 87 with Leinster backs coach Felipe Contepomi.

pThe other surprise sprung by Ledesma is not finding any place in the match-day 23 for 10 Nicolas Sanchez, retaining Benjamin Urdapilleta as starting pivot and preferring utility back Lucas Mensa on the bench.

japan-rugby-wcup-france-argentina Creevy makes a carry in the narrow loss to France. Source: Eugene Hoshiko

Wing Matias Moroni has likened playing the English to Argentina facing arch-rivals Brazil in football.

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“Obviously playing against England is a special game. I think it’s like playing football against Brazil. It’s something different,” he said.

Sizing up the 2015 semi-finalists, Jones added:

“It’s an interesting team– “we know Argentina are at their best at World Cups. They’re a pretty good team if they can get Creevy to come off the bench.”

(The scrum) is part of Argentinian rugby culture… you can have dormant periods but particularly when it’s a fabric of your rugby, it’s easy to reignite and I think (Argentina coach Mario Ledesma) has done that well.”

“It’s going to be a massive test on Saturday but they haven’t scrummed against us,” warned Jones.

“We believe our scrum can be a real weapon — so hang on to your seats!”

England: Elliot Daly; Anthony Watson, Manu Tuilagi, Owen Farrell (Capt), Jonny May; George Ford, Ben Youngs:  Joe Marler, Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler; Maro Itoje, George Kruis; Tom Curry, Sam Underhill, Billy Vunipola.

Replacements: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Mako Vunipola, Dan Cole, Courtney Lawes, Lewis Ludlam, Willi Heinz, Henry Slade, Jack Nowell.

Argentina:  Emiliano Boffelli; Matias Moroni, Matias Orlando, Jeronimo De La Fuente, Santiago Carreras; Benjamin Urdapilleta, Tomas Cubelli:  Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, Julian Montoya, Juan Figallo; Guido Petti, Tomas Lavanini; Pablo Matera (Capt), Marcos Kremer, Javier Ortega Desio. 

Replacements: Agustin Creevy, Mayco Vivas, Santiago Medrano, Matias Alemanno, Tomas Lezana, Felipe Ezcurra, Lucas Mensa, Bautista Delguy

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