Nick Easter will appear at a third World Cup after being called up by England to replace injured number eight Billy Vunipola.
Vunipola has been ruled out of the remainder of the tournament with the knee ligament strain sustained in Saturday’s 28-25 defeat by Wales. Easter was the latest of omissions from the original 31-man squad, losing out to Ben Morgan on the day of the announcement. The 37-year-old, who acted as a pitchside pundit at Twickenham for the Pool A clashes with Fiji and Wales, was driving to training at Harlequins when he was told that he had been summoned to the squad’s Surrey training base.
“I’m absolutely thrilled,” said Easter. “It’s what I’ve kept digging in for since 2011. I came back at the start of the year, worked hard and just missed out on selection last month. The management said I was on standby and that anything can happen. It’s very unfortunate for Billy. He played very well against Wales and was a star of the Six Nations. You’d like to be in the original squad but clearly I’m very honoured to be here.”
England must topple Australia at Twickenham on Saturday if they are to avoid becoming the only host nation to fail to reach the knockout stage of the World Cup.
Number eight Ben Morgan is available after recovering from his knee injury, while centre Jonathan Joseph could be involved against Australia as he battles a chest problem. The prognosis over lock Courtney Lawes and scrum-half Ben Youngs is less positive, with the duo needing to prove their fitness over the next two days.