England head coach Eddie Jones has revealed that Mako Vunipola and Anthony Watson will feature against Italy on February 26.
Both players missed the first two rounds of this year’s Six Nations through injury, with Watson’s last Test appearance on the tour to Australia last year.
Jones also revealed that the other Vunipola, Billy, is in contention to make a surprise return at the end of the tournament against Ireland as he continues to recover from a knee ligament injury.
“Mako has a big chance. He will play for Saracens next weekend and if he gets through that game OK we will bring him into camp for the Italy week,” Jones said.
“Watson ran at 95 percent on Friday so we are confident he will be able to play against Italy. It will be great to have him back and we will probably use him.
“Anthony will probably stay with us (rather than play for Bath) because he has not done much rugby with us. Billy might get back for Ireland. He’d be pretty useful off the bench – 150kg.”
Elaborating on one of the quirks of England’s set-piece against Wales, when Maro Itoje packed down in the second row despite wearing six on his back, Jones revealed that England were missing the work of George Kruis in the scrum.
“Maro’s a better scrummager. You want your best people scrummaging and there’s a massive difference in people’s ability to scrum,” Jones added.
“George Kruis is a super scrummager, the best scrummaging lock in England so we’re missing him and Maro’s probably the next best.
“Rather than have our best two scrummaging locks out we decided we’d have him in. And Courtney can defend at six.”