England have been given a clean bill of health for Saturday’s Six Nations clash against Scotland in Edinburgh, with Nathan Hughes on course to start at No8.
Lingering doubts over Owen Farrell and Joe Launchbury have lifted. Farrell overcame an unspecified lower leg injury and Launchbury is available after missing Friday’s open training session at Twickenham.
Hughes has been proving his fitness during gruelling sessions at England’s Surrey training base after recovering from knee ligament damage sustained on Wasps duty in mid-December.
The No8 has made one club appearance since returning several weeks ahead of schedule but starts at Murrayfield after Sam Simmonds was ruled out by a shoulder problem.
“Everyone’s fully fit for selection this weekend,” forwards coach Steve Borthwick said. “Nathan’s worked really hard, really diligently and he looks in really good shape. He’s healed very fast, which is great.
“While our strength and conditioning and medical team have worked incredibly hard, the credit has to go to Nathan for the work he’s done while he’s been injured. We want to make sure all of our players are ready for Test matches, that’s why we train at the intensity level we train at.
“Nathan gives us different strengths to Sam. He’s an outstanding ball carrier. His effect on the group has grown.
“He’s excellent with younger players, helping them mentally. He’s grown as a player in terms of the influence he has throughout, as a leader as well.”
England are second in the Six Nations table after two wins out of two, trailing Ireland on points difference, while Scotland are in fourth spot following their win against France.
Lions trio boost Wales for Irish
Leigh Halfpenny, Dan Biggar and Taulupe Faletau have all returned to training for Wales ahead of their Six Nations clash against Ireland, also on Saturday.
Victory for Wales would end Ireland’s Grand Slam hopes and keep alive their own title chances, while an Irish win would increase the likelihood of a championship showdown against England at Twickenham on March 17.
Halfpenny, Biggar and Faletau all missed the 12-6 defeat to England at Twickenham, which came after Wales opened their Six Nations account with a thumping 34-7 win against Scotland.
George North, a second-half replacement at Twickenham, and Liam Williams are also fit to travel to Dublin.
“Everybody has been given the green light and we’ve got a few boys who are happy they scored at the weekend [in club rugby],” Wales forwards coach Robin McBryde said. “There were a couple of wins and some good performances so it’s great to have everybody back with a spring in their step.
“It’s nice to have a few selection headaches and plenty of players to choose from.“There’s a competitive edge to training and there will be a few tough calls I’m sure, but we’re looking forward to those discussions.”
Full-back Halfpenny, who scored two tries against Scotland, missed the Twickenham defeat after picking up a foot injury.
Outside-half Biggar suffered a shoulder injury playing for Ospreys in the Champions Cup last month and No8 Faletau has battled back after damaging knee ligaments.