England bring in Willis ahead of Six Nations finale
SQUAD ANNOUNCEMENT: Wasps flank Jack Willis was Monday recalled to England’s squad ahead of their final match of this year’s Six Nations against France, with Tom Curry ruled out due to a hamstring problem.
Willis, who only made his comeback for Wasps last month after suffering a serious knee injury against Italy in last year’s Six Nations, is in Eddie Jones’s 34-man squad for Saturday’s match in Paris.
The 25-year-old could be involved at the Stade de France but the more likely option is that Sam Underhill will be restored to the back row for his first appearance of the tournament after overcoming concussion issues.
“Jack is obviously an option but I’d need to see him train tomorrow [Tuesday],” said Jones. “If he trains well tomorrow then he could be an option. He’s shown a lot of resilience and a lot of determination. I was really pleased watching him play [for Wasps] against Northampton [on Sunday].
“We know he’s a player of great promise and he’s still only 25 years of age. To come back from such a difficult injury is great testament to his resilience. I’m sure he’s going to add value to the squad.”
England are out of the Six Nations title race after falling to a record 15-32 defeat by Ireland at Twickenham at the weekend.
But they emerged with their pride intact after battling hard in response to lock Charlie Ewels being sent off after just 82 seconds, with two tries in the last eight minutes distorting the final scoreline.
“We have enormous pride from the team’s performance,” Jones said, whose side risk finishing in the bottom half of the table for the second year running.
“If you take out the first 10 minutes and the last 10 minutes, we probably shaded Ireland and played with a lot of tactical discipline, a lot of determination, and a lot of togetherness.
“We have a growing knowledge that this team has got great spirit. We’ve got a nice mix of experienced players and younger players coming through.
“We’ll learn a lot from that game, particularly in closing it down when we had the opportunity to.”
France suffered a wobble against Wales on Friday but still emerged 13-9 winners, dug out of trouble by a resolute defence.
“They’re a very good team and have a very good tactical approach to the game,” said Jones. “They use the strengths of their players well. They’re well-coached. They’ve got power and pace and skill around the ruck.”
England 34-man squad:
Forwards: Alfie Barbeary, Jamie Blamire, Ollie Chessum, Nic Dolly, Alex Dombrandt, Ellis Genge, Jamie George, Joe Heyes, Maro Itoje, Nick Isiekwe, Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes, Joe Marler, Sam Simmonds, Kyle Sinckler, Will Stuart, Sam Underhill, Jack Willis.
Backs: Orlando Bailey, Elliot Daly, George Ford, George Furbank, Ollie Hassell-Collins, Louis Lynagh, Max Malins, Joe Marchant, Alex Mitchell, Luke Northmore, Jack Nowell, Harry Randall, Henry Slade, Marcus Smith, Freddie Steward, Ben Youngs.