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England bring in 'Test match animal' for World Cup quarters

SQUAD UPDATE: Sam Underhill has been added to England’s World Cup squad in France, the Rugby Football Union confirmed on Sunday.

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The Bath loose forward replaces Jack Willis and will join up with the squad in Lille ahead of England’s quarterfinal on Sunday, October 15 in Marseille.

Willis has been ruled out of the remainder of the tournament with a neck issue.

Underhill, a starter for England in the 2019 final, was omitted from the original World Cup squad despite being part of the pre-tournament camps.

Speaking to reporters on Sunday, England defence coach Kevin Sinfield labelled the flank a “Test match animal”.

“First it is only fair to say we are really disappointed to be losing Jack Willis,” Sinfield said.

“We wish him the best and we want him back on the field as soon as possible. One door closes for someone and another one opens.

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“Sam was outstanding with us during warm-ups, he trained the house down and unfortunately, for whatever reason which we won’t share with you guys, he didn’t stay with us.

“We followed him closely, we have kept in touch.

“He is a Test-match animal, he is a fantastic player and it shows some of the quality we have got back in England.

“We are delighted he is able to join us. It is a like-for-like replacement for Jack and he brings some small differences but there are many similarities. He is a great character as well.

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“He knows what it’s like to play well at World Cups, he has done it previously. He brings a great deal of experience too.”

Despite facing tough competition in the form of Tom Curry and Courtney Lawes for a space in the starting lineup Sinfield said Underhill was already in consideration for selection.

“Without a shadow of a doubt, he’ll come in hard, no doubt about that,” Sinfield said.

“He’s a smart guy and he’ll pick things up quickly.

“We run quite a simple plan anyway because of the time we’ve had together.

“Sam will be great.”

Regarding the fitness updates of Manu Tuilagi and Jamie George, Sinfield said: “They have both got the all-clear. Yeah [free for selection].”

 

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