England manager Martin Johnson will use this weekend’s final World Cup warm-up match against Ireland, as a chance to give those players returning from injury an opportunity to get some match time before jetting off to New Zealand. Johnson’s recently named final 30-man World Cup squad will pop over to Dublin to take on the Irish, with Johnson looking to work out who will start the opening game of the tournament against Argentina. Those looking forward to the Rugby World Cup betting will be watching closely.
One player looking to get some minutes under his belt will be James Haskell, who has missed most of the summer with a foot injury. The flanker has been in scintillating form for England over the past 12 months and will be a integral part of the forward pack. Haskell’s return to the side will all the more important for England who are still missing influential skipper Lewis Moody with his injury. The 2003 World Cup winner is hoping to be ready and available for the Argentina match, although his knee injury is still restricting his training.
Scrum-half Ben Youngs was named in the 30-man part despite undergoing knee surgery earlier in the summer. The Leicester man may be used from the bench with Wasps’ scrum half in line to earn his first England start, although Youngs would be Johnson’s first choice when the World Cup gets under way. Pundits like Will Greenwood may agree.
Youngs’ touch and go fitness prompted Johnson to include three scrum-halves in the final squad with Simpson and Youngs joined by Richard Wigglesworth, although the Leicester-man’s form in an England shirt this season have seen him emerge as one of the most exciting number nines in world rugby.
Another man looking for his first taste of action of the summer will be Andrew Sheridan, the prop back fit after his shoulder operation. Alex Corbisiero and Matt Stevens have been impressive in the front-row in recent weeks but Sheridan’s past achievements should be enough to convince Johnson of his worth by the time the Argentina game arrives.