ENG­LAND

The Herald - Sport - - RUGBY WORLD CUP -

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.

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