Henry Arundell near injury return for London Irish clash with Harlequins in Six Nations fitness boost

Henry Arundell near injury return for London Irish clash with Harlequins in Six Nations fitness boost

Henry Arundell could make his London Irish return as soon as Sunday’s Gallagher Premiership clash with Harlequins.

The England speedster has been sidelined since October with foot trouble but has returned to full training with the Exiles this week.

Arundell was omitted from Steve Borthwick’s Six Nations squad due to injury, but England’s new boss has already admitted he could look to draw in the livewire 20-year-old should he prove fitness and form.

The three-cap wing will miss England’s tournament opener against Scotland at Twickenham on February 4 although he could yet be ready to feature later in the competition.

Irish defence coach Brad Davis hailed Arundell’s hard work in driving back to fitness, having picked up the injury in the 22-21 Gloucester defeat on October 21, then undergoing an operation in December.

“Henry Arundell is back in training and could come into contention this week, it’s super exciting for us and rugby as a whole, so that’s great news,” said Davis.

“It’s just good for the kid himself to be out on the training field and doing what he loves. He was involved a little bit last week, and we’ve just been bringing him through slowly.

“He'll train this week and we’ll see how he goes but first and foremost we’ve got to make sure he’s 100 per cent ready, and he’s got enough load into his body to be ready for a game.

“But just to have him back out on the training field I think is enormous for him, and great for us and also for England to have him out there on the field.

“The first thing is that he’s fit and ready to play, 100 per cent, then when he does come in he’s able to perform. Then the expectation is for him not necessarily to pick up exactly where he left off as well. Because any time you’ve had a long injury lay-off there’s always parts of your game, the timing might be slightly off, just getting back up to the speed of the game.

“Henry’s no different. So touch wood for him personally that he’s got a tremendous amount of games to come in his career, and because of that, there's no point rushing him at this young age.”

Influential South African centre Benhard Van Rensburg remains a doubt for Irish’s capital derby clash with Quins at Brentford’s Gtech Community Stadium on Sunday, due to an ankle issue.

“Benhard hasn’t trained yet this week, so we’re going to monitor him,” said Davis. “He’ll always put his hand up to play, but there’s still plenty for us at the backend of the season, so we want to make sure that if he is going to play he’ll be able to perform at his best.”

Irish will head into the Quins clash off the back of a hugely creditable 21-21 Champions Cup draw in Montpellier, but one that saw the Exiles concede a 21-0 lead and also slip out of Europe altogether.

Davis insisted Irish are frustrated by another near-miss of a result that also carries great promise.

“I think our defence has improved enormously over the last four to five weeks, and we are just starting to get the rewards out of that,” he said.

“I think we have one of the highest tackle completion percentages in the competition, we concede the least amount of line breaks. But at the end of the day the most important thing is winning rugby games.

“We’ve had a lot of close calls this year, and hopefully we can just start converting those draws and close losses into wins. We’re not far away. It’s frustrating, I have to say I’m frustrated. Frustrated that we’re close but not quite close enough, how we shift those one per centers.”