NEWS

Billy Vunipola could return for Calcutta Cup match

March 9, 2017

Billy Vunipola may return to England action in the Calcutta Cup match at Twickenham against Scotland on Saturday (March 11th).

The Saracens star has recovered from a ligament injury that sidelined him for three months and will be on the bench alongside another returnee, Bath's Anthony Watson.

Jonathan Joseph has been restored to the starting line-up at outside centre, with Jack Nowell on the right wing and Ben Youngs coming in at scrum half. Joe Marler will earn his 50th cap and will lead the team out.

Danny Care and Ben Te'o have also been drafted onto the bench as head coach Eddie Jones looks to assemble a good group of "finishers" to ensure the home side can beat an improving Scotland.

Jones said: "Our preparation for Scotland has been very good. We had two excellent training runs in Oxford last week and followed that up this week.

"We're focused on ourselves; we want to give our fans a really good performance. We've worked hard in this RBS 6 Nations and feel like a good performance is just around the corner."

Discussing the challenge presented by the Scots, Steve Borthwick told the RFU website: "They've got strengths in their pack and across their team. If you start isolating one or two areas then you will get hurt elsewhere. They are a smart team so we have to prepare to our very best."

Scotland have won two of their three games in the tournament so far, with wins at Murrayfield over Ireland and Wales. This means they are chasing the triple crown and their team at Twickenham will show just one change from the side that beat Ireland; John Hardie has a knee injury so his place will be taken by Edinburgh back-row Hamish Watson. Cornell Du Preez will take Watson's place on the bench and will make his test debut if he comes on.

Head coach Vern Cotter said his side have played in fits and starts through the tournament so far, and need to combine all the good parts of previous matches into "one excellent performance" at Twickenham.

They will certainly need to play well to secure a first win in London since 1983 and a first triple crown since 1990; England are just one win away from equalling the record of 18 successive Test wins set by New Zealand only last year and could also secure the RBS Six Nations Championship if they win, particularly if they can do so by scoring four tries and thus earning a bonus point.

If they do they will go into the final game against Ireland in Dublin seeking a record-breaking 19th win. Ironically, it was the Irish who ended the All Blacks' run last year, their first ever win over New Zealand.

For fans booking corporate hospitality for this autumn's Old Mutual Wealth International Series, the thought of watching an England team of record breakers is an exciting one. But before they can go for number 19, Eddie Jones' men will know they face the strongest Scottish challenge in many years.

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