England should have a fully fit squad for Saturday’s World Cup semi-final against New Zealand with wingers Jonny May and Jack Nowell expected to recover from injury, assistant coach Neal Hatley said on Monday.
May scored two tries before damaging his hamstring late in the 40-16 quarter-final victory over Australia on Saturday, while Nowell missed that game with a similar problem having battled back to fitness following a serious ankle injury.
“It’s fantastic where we are, all 31 being available for selection at the end of the week,” Hatley told reporters.
“Jonny’s bouncing around this morning. He has a small twinge and we’ll assess where he is a little bit later today. He’s in really good spirits, moving well, and we expect Jack to be fit for selection as well.”
Hatley also said he was pleased by Mako Vunipola’s condition after the prop made his first start since May against Australia.
“Unbelievably impressed,” the coach said. “He continues to go from strength to strength. We’ve talked before about this team of 31 and everyone’s doing their part but Mako, when he plays well, like he did, is a real force.
“You watch him train, you work with him – I don’t mean to sound blase about it – but you sometimes are not surprised by what he does because he is that good a footballer, because of how he conducts himself. “He’s got himself in the best condition that he’s ever been in. I wasn’t surprised at the performance he turned in but I can understand why people outside of our group would look at it and go ‘that’s a hell of a performance’.”
Hatley was also full of praise for prop Kyle Sinckler, who scored his first test try on Saturday to mark another excellent game.
Something of a hothead in his youth, Sinckler is often a target for opposition wind-ups but, now 26 and a seasoned international, he now seems to be able to control his emotions better.
“He’s a different player to what he was even when we started camp,” Hatley said. “Every week, every day, he’s just trying to get better.
“He looks a lot more relaxed. He’s come on in leaps and bounds. Again it’s the pressure he gets put under at training – we put him in these difficult situations.
“I thought he handled himself magnificently and got a great try to boot. It was stuff we worked on during the week, a great ball from ‘Faz’ (Owen Farrell) and he has hit the right line.”
England left their southern holiday resort base to return to Tokyo on Monday, where they will start fine-tuning their preparation to face the world champion All Blacks.