Nathan Hughes is expected to take part in Thursday’s final training session as he prepares to replace Tom Wood in England’s back row against Fiji.
Hughes has been struggling with a lower leg injury but the explosive 25-year-old Wasp is on course to make his full Test debut in the second of four autumn internationals at Twickenham.
In a surprise move by Eddie Jones, Wood has been dropped for Saturday’s clash with Fiji despite being praised by the head coach for his performance in a 37-21 victory over South Africa.
Hughes is set to edge Teimana Harrison for the number seven jersey in the only change to the pack that started against the Springboks.
“Woody did exceptionally well, but we are just looking at it on a game by game basis. Nathan did well when he was on and we want to give him an opportunity potentially,” scrum coach Neal Hatley said. “Eddie has talked about wanting to make sure that we are looking across the spectrum of players.
“I think that Eddie has gone on record saying that Tom did really well during his match and worked exceptionally hard.
“He has trained very well this week, but we are looking at selection specifically game by game.
“Nathan brings a big ball carrying threat – we’ve seen what he can do in the Premiership.
“He hits hard and carries the ball well and against Fiji we know that they are going to carry the ball hard, so we need stopping power. It will be a brilliant opportunity for Nathan if he is involved.”
England were given a scare when Saturday’s Twickenham protagonists last met at the 2015 World Cup, entering the final quarter only 18-11 ahead until the intervention of their replacements bench and the resolve of Mike Brown swung the balance in their favour.
The nadir of the tournament opener was Fiji’s superior scrum performance that culminated in them winning a penalty try from an attacking set-piece.
“We’ve done a lot of analysis on Fiji. They have a Kiwi coach in John McKee and have moved away from just flinging the ball around. Also, their set piece has improved immeasurably,” Hatley said. “Leone Nakarawa, who was at Glasgow and has now moved to France, he’s an excellent lineout technician so they’re a lot more of a set piece threat than previous years.”
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Hughes expected to be fit for Fiji
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