Duo set for England debuts
November 6, 2012
Joe Launchbury could make his debut for England on Saturday © Getty Images
Wasps' Joe Launchbury and Saracens' Mako Vunipola are both in the frame to make their England debut against Fiji on Saturday.
The pair have been retained by boss Stuart Lancaster in the trimmed down 23-man squad that will stay on England duty for the rest of the week. The party is split between 13 forwards and 10 backs and they are set to be the matchday squad for the match with Fiji.
While Launchbury and Vunipola are in the mix to run out at Twickenham on Saturday, there are 10 players who have returned to their clubs while Courtney Lawes, Dylan Hartley and Jonathan Joseph have been ruled out but will stay in the camp for treatment.
No.8 Ben Morgan - who has played in seven of the eight games Lancaster has presided over as England boss - is set to sit out Saturday's match after he was released to Gloucester for club duty and his fellow club team-mates Freddie Burns and Billy Twelvetrees are also not in the international mix. Wasps flanker James Haskell is also not required for Test duty while Alex Corbisiero will run out for London Irish at the weekend in a bid to prove his fitness to the England coaching staff.
Saracens lock Mouritz Botha has also been released while Northampton Saints duo Lee Dickson and Phil Dowson have returned to their clubs along with Harlequins' George Robson and Leicester Tigers' Anthony Allen.
Lancaster's team will now look to kickstart their autumn Test programme with a win against Fiji and the coach is looking forward to seeing the uncapped duo in action.
"We have had a good two days back at Pennyhill Park and the players have been very focused on delivering against Fiji," Lancaster said. "Saturday is a great opportunity for us to put a marker down and deliver a quality performance. It's great to have young players such as Mako Vunipola and Joe Launchbury get their opportunities in the match-day 23 and we are excited about the potential of the squad.
"Under the agreement with Premiership Rugby we are releasing some players back, including Alex Corbisiero, who will play for London Irish and we are looking forward to seeing how he goes."
England squad for the Fiji Test:
Dylan Hartley (knee), Courtney Lawes (knee) and Jonathan Joseph (ankle) will also return to camp for continued treatment.
The released players:
Anthony Allen (Leicester Tigers), Mouritz Botha (Saracens), Freddie Burns (Gloucester Rugby), Alex Corbisiero (London Irish), Lee Dickson (Northampton Saints), Phil Dowson (Northampton Saints), James Haskell (London Wasps), Ben Morgan (Gloucester Rugby), George Robson (Harlequins), Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby)
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Concussion, relegation and the mother of all surprises - it's the Monday Maul.
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies