Rugby World Cup 2019: England deliver positive injury update as players enjoy rocking reception
England will have 29 of their 31 players fit and available for the opening pool game against Tonga after all of their short-term injury concerns cleared up upon arrival in Miyazaki
England will still be without Mako Vunipola and Jack Nowell for at least their first two matches of the pool stage, but head coach Eddie Jones received a small boost with the news that none of the trio who picked up injuries in last Friday’s victory over Italy in Launchbury, Kyle Sinckler and Luke Cowan-Dickie have shown any lasting effects of their knocks.
It means that England will have 29 of their 31-man squad available, with Slade also back in full training after overcoming the knee injury that ruled him out of all four of their warm-up matches and Jonathan Joseph fully recovered from muscle soreness.
“Mako and Jack Nowell will be back in the latter part of the group stages,” confirmed England forwards’ coach Steve Borthwick.
“Slade is looking, very, very good. Joseph is in full training. Joe Launchbury came off with a back injury at the weekend, but there's nothing concerning there.
“Joe will recover from the flight and will be good to go. Sinckler was nothing serious, but while Mako and Jack are unavailable (now) Slade is on track.”
Borthwick delivered the positive update from Miyazaki Kita High School, where he joined the squad’s backs for a welcoming ceremony in front of 1,000 school children that was entirely composed by the pupils, which featured a brass band rendition of Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You’, both rugby and archery displays and a presentation to the England captain Owen Farrell.
With Borthwick returning to Japan four years after leaving his role as assistant coach with the national team under Jones, the former England skipper delivered a thank you speech in Japanese in response.
“I said it's great to be here in Japan and we'll do our very best at the World Cup. I thanked them for their support,” he said. “The players are enjoying it. It's a great training camp here in Miyazaki. I know that from my previous experience with Japan at the last World Cup.
"You couldn't have asked for better facilities and the players have enjoyed how we've started.”
The squad have also put their disruptive start behind them after the early travel issues caused by Typhoon Faxai. “There was a bit of disruption, but people were very good around the airport. They gave us access to the lounge because they knew we'd been held up.
"We stayed on the plane for a period of time and then went into the lounge.
“There was also a little delay outside at the airport so the boys started an impromptu game of cricket. It was good, but I didn't have an innings.”
Listen to Episode Two of The Indy Rugby Podcast: Japan 2019.