England: Sam Underhill set to replace Tom Curry in starting XV for second Test against Australia

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 Credit: PA Images
Credit: PA Images

With Tom Curry ruled out of England’s Test series against Australia with concussion, Sam Underhill is set to return to his country’s starting line-up as his back-row replacement.

Although he was not part of the matchday squad for England’s 30-28 defeat in the first Test against the Wallabies in Perth at the weekend, Underhill appears to be ahead of Lewis Ludlam and Jack Willis in the race to replace Curry.

Underhill and Curry shone in tandem for England as the starting flankers during the 2019 Rugby World Cup and helped their country to reach the final where they lost to South Africa.

Few Test appearances since 2019 World Cup

Since then, the Bath back-row has made just 13 international appearances as he has been struggling with concussion, Covid-19, illness and injury and only played in one Six Nations Test earlier this year.

But now he appears to be the favourite to wear England’s number seven jersey at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane with Ludlam set to continue on the replacements bench.

“Sam’s work rate on and off the ball are excellent. He’s a really good defender, particularly with his chop tackles,” said defence coach Anthony Seibold.

“He’s played at a high level. I’m thinking of New Zealand at Twickenham in 2018 and, watching his performances at the World Cup from afar, he was a standout for me.”

19-year-old Henry Arundell is also in line to replace Joe Cokanasiga on the left wing after he came off the bench to score a try during a seven-minute debut stint during the first Test.

England were hoping Jonny May would be fit for the Brisbane encounter but he’s still struggling with the after-effects of Covid-19 and is now pushing for a return to action in the third Test in Sydney on July 16.

Cokanasiga battled to get going in Perth but could retain his place in the run-on side due to a concern about Arundell’s defence at this stage of his career.

England have struggled on defence in recent fixtures but Seibold believes they have the players to return to winning ways after losing their last four matches.

“You look at our leaders like Courtney Lawes, Owen Farrell and Ellis Genge – you want to go to war with those guys. You do,” he said.

“Working with those three guys in particular, amongst others, you know if you had to go to war with those three guys you know they’re going to stand up.

“I know Owen spoke about how this is an opportunity for us. I do think we’ve got some guys in our group who are up for this and that’s the exciting thing.”

England have nowhere to hide

Meanwhile, front-row Mako Vunipola has urged England to give their all at a venue where the Wallabies have won their last 10 Tests.

“It’s time for us to show what we’re about as a team. We’ve got nowhere to hide,” he said.

“We’ve got our backs against the wall and now we’ve got to go out there and put our best foot forward.

“If we do that, we can come off the field with our heads held high. I don’t think we did that enough in the first Test and the result showed that.”

READ MORE: Darcy Swain: Wallabies lock to miss rest of England series after receiving two-week suspension

 

The article England: Sam Underhill set to replace Tom Curry in starting XV for second Test against Australia appeared first on Planetrugby.com.

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