England expect Jonny May and Jack Nowell to be fit for their Rugby World Cup semi-final against New Zealand, according to assistant coach Neal Hatley.
May scored two tries in England’s dominant 40-16 victory over Australia on Saturday, helping Eddie Jones’ side set up a last-four tie with the All Blacks, who thrashed Ireland.
However, England had cause for concern over May when the wing suffered a hamstring injury, while Nowell has also been dealing with a similar problem.
But Hatley has revealed both players are expected to be available for selection for Saturday’s contest in Yokohama.
“It’s fantastic where we are, all 31 being available for selection at the end of the week,” said Hatley in a news conference.
“Jonny’s 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, and we expect Jack to be fit for selection as well.”
2 – Jonny May is the first @EnglandRugby player to score two tries in a @rugbyworldcup knockout match since Rory Underwood and Will Carling both crossed twice against New Zealand in the 1995 semi-final. Quickfire.#RWC2019 #ENGvAUS pic.twitter.com/4ktuKC8DBN
— OptaJonny (@OptaJonny) October 19, 2019
England last met reigning world champions New Zealand at Twickenham in November 2018, with the All Blacks edging out a 16-15 victory. Hatley, though, insists neither side should read too much into that previous meeting.
“I think the goal for us is to get better every day. I think we’ve improved, but they’ve improved as well. I don’t think we can take a lot from what happened in Autumn,” he added.
“You know, they were missing a few, we were missing a few, and I think both sides have improved since then, it’s a whole different situation.
“We’ve got certain things that we’ll l want to do in that first 15, 20 minutes and we need to focus on what we do right, then hopefully we’ll replicate the same start.”
Jones, meanwhile, lauded the current New Zealand side as the “greatest team” of all time – and not just in rugby union, either.
“We are playing the greatest team there has ever been in sport,” he told reporters. “If you look at their record, I don’t think there’s a team that comes close to them for sustainability.
“Name me another team in the world that plays at the absolute top level that wins 90 per cent of their games.
“Now, talent doesn’t matter. When you get to this stage of the tournament, it’s about how strong the team is. The reason I took this job is because I saw a team that could be great and that was the challenge and they are starting to believe it.”
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