MX23RW : Monday, December 17 01:08:04

Hughes set to make England return against Australia after completing ban

Hughes set to make England return against Australia after completing ban
© Reuters
The Wasps forward has missed all three autumn internationals to date.

Nathan Hughes is poised to make his England comeback in Saturday’s autumn finale against Australia after completing his six-week ban.

Hughes missed the opening three Quilter Internationals after being suspended for punching and conduct prejudicial to the interest of the game, the latter charge incurred for tweeting “what a joke” at the disciplinary process.

The Fijian-born Wasps forward is likely to be involved in the matchday 23 named by Eddie Jones on Thursday and will supply a ball-carrying threat at number eight where Mark Wilson and Zach Mercer have been providing cover.

“Nathan did a bit of training yesterday (Sunday) so he’s not bad. We’ll wait and see if he could start,” Jones said.

Mercer has made way to accommodate Hughes’ return among the 28 summoned to England’s Surrey training base to prepare for Australia’s visit.

Also axed after Saturday’s laboured 35-15 victory over Japan are scrum-half Danny Care and centre Alex Lozowski.

England head coach Eddie Jones
England head coach Eddie Jones has shuffled his pack for the upcoming international with Australia (Adam Davy/PA)

Richard Wigglesworth, a second-half replacement on Saturday, will deputise for Ben Youngs from the bench against Australia after ousting Care, who has been jettisoned despite scoring the opening try.

Lozowski has paid the price for waving centre Ryoto Nakamura through under the posts for one of Japan’s two touch downs, a mistake that saw him replaced by Owen Farrell at half-time.

The Saracen’s removal opens the door to Piers Francis, who won the most recent of his four caps as a second-half replacement in the first Test of the summer tour to South Africa.

“We’re just changing the squad to look how we can improve it. Selection is always a response to performance,” Jones said.

Manu Tuilagi appears set to miss the entire autumn after Jones painted a bleak picture over his chances of facing Australia.

Manu Tuilagi
Manu Tuilagi could miss out again for England (Adam Davy/PA)

Tuilagi was ruled out of the opener against South Africa because of a groin strain but has not been selected since.

“Manu’s coming along well but is very doubtful for this weekend. We’ll wait and see,” Jones said.

The England coach also revealed that wing Chris Ashton is to undergo a scan on the calf problem sustained against Japan, but the injury is not thought to be serious.


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