England have been dealt an injury blow as speedster Joe Cokanasiga has been ruled out of this weekend’s clash with New Zealand due to an ankle problem.
The 25-year-old was a late addition to England’s starting line-up ahead of their 52-13 triumph over Japan after Jack Nowell was ruled out with an abdominal issue, but Cokanasiga has now also been added to the injury list.
However, Nowell has since made a full recovery from that injury and was included in England head coach Eddie Jones‘ reduced 25-man squad. He could return to the run-on side to face the All Blacks, with Tommy Freeman also present in the squad as a wing option.
100 up for Owen Farrell this weekend
Meanwhile, utility back Owen Farrell is set to win his 100th cap on Saturday in the third of England’s three Autumn Nations Series Tests during November, with Jones naming his matchday squad on Thursday morning.
Jones admitted last month that “if we don’t have Owen, then we lose a huge percentage of our fight”, but hooker Jamie George insists the ferocious competitor visible to all is balanced by empathy.
“Owen has changed the way that English rugby has been played, we can genuinely say that. He’s someone who has led the way throughout his 99 caps for England,” George said.
“He changed mindset of the team, giving us the belief to play against teams like the All Blacks. And that’s when he has been captain and when he hasn’t.
“The way that he fights and shows resilience, it’s like nothing I’ve ever seen. And he has continued to develop his game, he’s continued to not settle. It could have been very easy for him once he got to 50 caps to think, ‘I can cruise this for the rest of the time’.
“There has not been a day I’ve trained with him throughout the last close to 15 years, which is worrying, where I thought, ‘He’s having an off day today’.
A relentless competitor for club and country
“Every day he’s relentless, wants to get better and has a drive that is not just internal because he’s desperate to make every team that he plays for better.
“Sometimes he rubs people the wrong way because he’s passionate and he cares and he drives standards in a way that is unlike I’ve ever seen before.
“But it’s in a great way because people work out when they spend a bit more time with him that he cares about the team.
“He’s a lot more empathetic than people think. Having kids has given him perspective on that and seeing him grow as a dad and as a friend has been been absolutely amazing.”
England 25-man squad:
Forwards: Alex Coles (Northampton Saints), Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs), Tom Curry (Sale Sharks), Ellis Genge (Bristol Bears), Jamie George (Saracens), Jonny Hill (Sale Sharks), Maro Itoje (Saracens), Dave Ribbans (Northampton Saints), Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs), Kyle Sinckler (Bristol Bears), Will Stuart (Bath), Billy Vunipola (Saracens), Mako Vunipola (Saracens), Jack Willis (unattached)
Backs: Owen Farrell (Saracens), Tommy Freeman (Northampton Saints), Jonny May (Gloucester), Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs), Guy Porter (Leicester Tigers), Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs), Marcus Smith (Harlequins), Freddie Steward (Leicester Tigers), Manu Tuilagi (Sale Sharks), Jack van Poortvliet (Leicester Tigers), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)
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The article England: Joe Cokanasiga ruled out of All Blacks clash due to ankle injury appeared first on Planetrugby.com.