Joe Cokanasiga and Mark Wilson have emerged as doubts for the start of England’s World Cup campaign due to knee problems.
Cokanasiga and Wilson have been unable to take part in training at the squad’s camp in Miyazaki due to the injuries and, according to Eddie Jones, they are now undergoing a “mini pre-season”.
- Jones backs Youngs to shine in Japan
- Farrell: 2015 failure has made England better
Both players were involved in the final warm-up Test against Italy, Wilson starting at openside flanker and wing Cokanasiga making a second-half appearance from the bench.
But now a question mark hovers over their involvement in the Japan 2019 opener against Tonga in Sapporo on September 22 and potentially the second Pool C clash with the USA four days later.
“When guys get knocks and niggles they go through a rehab process based on a specific injury,” said defence coach John Mitchell, who declined to reveal whether the players could recover in time.
England will be expected to sweep Tonga aside, not least after the Pacific Islanders were overwhelmed 92-7 by tournament favourites New Zealand recently.
But the underdogs have a longstanding reputation for their ferocious tackling that could keep the English medics busy in a week’s time.
0:36 England hooker Jamie George feels he has grown as a player since nailing down the No 2 jersey
“The Tongans are a very hard-working people,” said Mitchell. “They’re obviously very passionate when they do play for Tonga.
“They’re representing not only themselves and their family, but also a small island that’s produced a lot of very good rugby players.
“It will be a very special occasion for them. It’s something that will lift them.”
0:46 England defence coach John Mitchell says they have made sure the players are prepared for the humid conditions in Japan
England enter the ninth instalment of the World Cup as joint-second favourites alongside South Africa and hooker Jamie George knows that the culmination of the Jones era has arrived.
“Eddie’s not giving us too many messages now we’re here because the message has been drilled into us for the last four years,” said George.