England prop Mako Vunipola ahead of schedule in recovery at Rugby World Cup
Mako Vunipola has handed England a fitness before their Rugby World Cup opener since he returned to live scrummaging ahead of schedule in his recovery from a hamstring strain.
Front-row forward Vunipola along with winger Jack Nowell have both already been ruled out of England’s Pool C opener from Tonga in Sapporo on Sunday, however their involvement at Wednesday’s training session, together with injury doubts Mark Wilson and Joe Cokanasiga, guaranteed all 31 members of Eddie Jones’ group were active.
Despite the advancement of Vunipola, scrum coach Neal Hatley warned that the optimism in their squad thickness of England means they are unlikely to dash the Saracens loosehead back prior to their pool match, against Argentina on October 5.
“We’ve had a great afternoon,” Hatley said. “Everyone’s trained. Mark Wilson’s educated, Joe Cokanasiga’s trained, Mako’s finished live scrums, the face of the pitch’s been flying down, and really happy with where we are and the way folks are currently coming on.
“With the short turnaround, we will see where we get to with him (Vunipola). We have got obviously Joe (Marler) and Ellis (Genge), two excellent looseheads, so we’re going to push Mak, but it is brilliant at which he’s, we did not believe he’d do live scrums today.
“So it’s testament the work that the medical team’s done and how hard Mak’s functioned that he is back able to perform live scrums early”
Vunipola underwent surgery after injuring his hamstring in Saracens’ Heineken Cup success in May, before enduring a re-occurrence of the problem in England’s warm-up victory over Ireland.