Nowell backed to make timely return for England’s semi-final with New Zealand

England expect to have Jack Nowell fit and available for selection for this weekend’s World Cup semi-final against New Zealand.Nowell missed the quarter-final victory over Australia with a hamstring injury but England are optimistic he will be in contention to face the All Blacks in Yokohama on Saturday.

Nowell’s return would be timely for England, given Jonny May twinged his hamstring in the final minutes against the Wallabies, but the assistant coach Neal Hatley is also hopeful over the Leicester winger and has predicted that Eddie Jones will have a full squad of 31 to choose from.England’s Kyle Sinckler hits self-control switch to frustrate the baiters Read more

Nowell has endured a frustrating World Cup so far – having finally recovered from the ankle injury he suffered in the Premiership final at the start of June, he made a try-scoring cameo against Argentina in the pool stage but soon picked up his latest injury.Jones had said on Sunday that Nowell will need to come through England’s first major training session of the week on Tuesday to be considered and while that is still likely to be the case, Hatley offered a more bullish assessment.

“We expect Jack to be fit for selection,” said Hatley. “It’s fantastic where we are, all 31 being available for selection at the end of the week. [May] is bouncing around this morning. He has a small twinge and we’ll assess where he is a little bit later today. He’s in really good spirits, moving well.”

Nowell’s availability would offer England another option in their back-three department as they plot the downfall of the two-times reigning world champions.Both May, who scored two tries, and Anthony Watson, who added England’s fourth late on, excelled on Saturday but Jones values Nowell’s work-rate highly.

England have never beaten New Zealand at the World Cup, losing on their three previous meetings in 1991, 1995 and 1999, and the All Blacks have not lost a match at the tournament since 2007. In their only match against New Zealand under Jones, England went down to a 16-15 defeat last autumn.The All Blacks also underlined that they remain the team to beat with their crushing 46-14 win over Ireland on Saturday.All Blacks are best sports team ever but beatable, says Eddie Jones Read more

“They are dangerous from all over the pitch,” added Hatley. “[They have a] good set-piece, I thought they defended really well and they took their chances – they are clinical when they get opportunities. It’s not something we haven’t seen from them before, I think they’ve done that through most of the last year so we understand the importance of looking after the ball.

“Some sides are about a really solid set-piece, others more about attack. They’ve got a pretty all-round game. Their set-piece game is strong, their transitions are strong, they defend exceptionally well with a lot of intent.Eddie talked about it, they’ve got a proud win record. I don’t there is one area that they are brilliant in but they are pretty good across most of the areas.”