Jamie George gives England a boost with an unexpected return to form

England have been lifted after a dismal start to the autumn by the unexpected return to form of hooker Jamie George.

eorge was expected to miss the entire autumn Cup of Nations campaign after breaking two metatarsal bones on club duty for Saracens against Leicester on October 1, with a 10 to 12 recovery period initially predicted.

But the Lions front row has been named in a 36-man training squad for Saturday’s visit of Japan at Twickenham, with England confirming he is available for selection.

It will be hoped George can show enough fitness to back up rookie Luke Cowan-Dickie as Eddie Jones’ men look to bounce back from Sunday’s shock 30-29 loss to Argentina.

Three reinforcements at the back have also arrived, with Tommy Freeman making a successful return from a leg injury for Northampton against Exeter on Friday, while Jonny May is available after recovering from an elbow problem.

Freeman and May will put pressure on starting wings Joe Cocanasiga and Jack Nowell, with the current back line showing a noticeable lack of speed.

Nowell, one of the better performers against Argentina, insists simple fixes must revive the autumn, claiming England were the architects of their own collapse in a flat opening series.

It was the Pumas’ first loss in 13 years after they racked up 10 straight wins in the match, in the process registering a fifth defeat in nine Tests this year with tougher tasks against New Zealand and South Africa still to come.

The penalty shootout finished 10-10 and Nowell said: “If we had sorted the discipline it would have been a completely different game. We know exactly what we need to fix.

It’s not like we don’t know what to do there, we know exactly what to do. We just don’tJack Nowell

“It’s bloody hard to play a game of rugby when you give away so many penalties. They were kicking in the corner, taking three points, tearing you away.

“It’s Test rugby and you have to win the game a few times. But when we make this difficult for ourselves, we only have ourselves to blame.

“It’s not like we don’t know what to do there, we know exactly what to do. We just don’t.

“We didn’t look at each other in the dressing room after the game and think ‘how did we lose him.’ We know why we lost this, and we probably deserve it.

“Confidence is in the team. We will stay together and be healthy.”

The clouds hanging over Twickenham punctuated the eagerly anticipated return of Manu Tuilagi at outside center after a year out with hamstring and knee injuries.


Manu Tuilagi (center) returned against Argentina (David Davis/Pennsylvania)

The tenacious 31-year-old made several tackles on Argentina’s defense before limping off with a blister and Nowell was delighted to be on the field with his long-term friend.

“It was so good to be back Manu. He’s an amazing player and he’s working hard to get back,” said Nowell, whose own international career has suffered from repeated visits to the treatment room.

“When you have a guy like that inside you, he sucks players in, he brings players in, but he’s also very good defensively.

“We didn’t want to make each other miserable, so we didn’t say anything because for so many years we were like ships in the night, unable to go out on the field together. We enjoyed a hug after the game!

“He just has a blister and it’s not that bad. Physiotherapists are good at taking care of that sort of thing, so he’s fine. He’s had a lot worse!”

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