England are ready to start Tom Curry in Saturday’s seismic World Cup opener against Argentina if there are no setbacks in his recovery from an ankle injury.
Curry missed all four warm-up Tests after spraining the joint during training in early August, but is now poised to make his first appearance since the Gallagher Premiership final in May.
The influential 25-year-old is so valuable to England – especially in defence – that they are willing to slot him straight into the back row, most likely at openside flanker.
“It’s great to see Tom out there training, he’s been really good. He’s been excellent,” said defence coach Kevin Sinfield, who revealed the squad has a clean bill of health.
When asked if Curry could be recalled immediately, Sinfield replied: “We’ve got no doubt about that.
“He’s got a number of caps under his belt now and he’s been doing it for years. He can play a number of positions across the back row for us too. We’re delighted he’s available.”
England will need to be armed with every possible string to their bow when they clash with Argentina in Marseille having complied a record of five defeats in six Tests.
Defence has been an alarming area of vulnerability with 30 tries conceded in the nine games since Sinfield took charge as part of Steve Borthwick’s coaching team.
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Sinfield pinpoints the recent high injury count, plus the bans issued to Billy Vunipola and Owen Farrell for dangerous tackles last month, as two of the reasons for the malaise.
“It really helps having Tom Curry back available. Some of the suspensions that we’ve had over the last couple of weeks haven’t helped. The back row changes we’ve had to make probably haven’t helped too,” Sinfield said.
“I do see a team here that are improving and getting better. I also understand and I’m very realistic that we’ve not been good enough so far.
“We are working incredibly hard to be better this week and I have complete confidence and belief in the group over where we’re going.
“I’ve seen a very slight change in how we’ve gone about our business this week. We needed to have that change and make that adjustment.
“I have to say I’ve really enjoyed my time with the guys. I’ve not been happy with the results and I’ve not been happy with the tries we’ve conceded, but I understand where we are going.
“We’ve just got to better across the board. I won’t hide or shy away from that. We need to be better across the board in our defence. We missed too many tackles last time out and that’s something we’ve got to rectify.
“I’m firmly in there with the players. I’m accountable, I’m responsible.”