Attwood uncertainty another worry for England

That Dave Attwood has already made good on one promise this week, England will take as an encouraging sign ahead if their clash with world champions New Zealand at Twickenham on Saturday.

And already injury-hit Red Rose brigade, without locks Geoff Parling, Joe Launchbury and Ed Slater, were facing the prospect of yet more second-row disruption when Bath forward Attwood left camp on Tuesday to attend the birth of his first child.

That led to speculation he could miss Saturday’s match if he not return in time but after both he and fiancee Bridget had promised England forwards coach Graham Rowntree he would be back in time, Attwood’s partner duly delivered on Tuesday.

“Massive thanks from everyone,” Attwood said on Twitter. “@briewhelan was a superstar. Everyone is doing amazingly well. Couldn’t be happier.”

Earlier, Rowntree said: “Dave has gone home, his wife’s in labour. They’ve both promised me their baby will be delivered in the next couple of days! Hopefully that will be sorted for the weekend.

“He’s in his car and on his way home, so good luck to them both.”

Attwood is now in line to start against New Zealand, the first match of a November campaign for 2015 World Cup hosts England that also sees them facing South Africa, Samoa and Australia at Twickenham.

Saturday’s match is set to be Attwood’s third successive appearance against the All Blacks after the 27-year-old twice came on as a replacement during England’s 3-0 series loss in New Zealand in June.

“We’re very confident in Dave. The Tests against New Zealand in the summer gave him a taste of high-class rugby,” Rowntree said.

“He enjoyed it and he’s gone back, got himself very fit and shed some weight.

“His game involvement has increased sufficiently and he’s played exceptionally well in Bath’s pack, so I’m more than happy with him.”

– Outstanding Kruis –

Given England’s injury problems in the second ow, uncapped Saracens lock George Kruis could well make his Test debut at some stage this month.

And Rowntree said he would have no qualms about pitching the 25-year-old into the most daunting maiden Test assignment of all against the All Blacks.

“George has been outstanding. We’ve been watching him for some time but he’s come in and exceeded my expectations,” Rowntree said.

“I was a big fan to start with, but I can’t praise him enough, how he’s got up to speed with things.

“He’s actually leading things in terms of the line-out area,” Rowntree added. “He’s exceptionally confident and fit, he’s one of the last forwards to finish the endurance tests.”

Rather than be daunted by England’s injury problems, Rowntree was excited by the opportunities that had been created for a group of emerging players.

“We have some big names missing. We have virtually a pack of British and Irish Lions who will be sat at home on Saturday,” he said. “But I’ve been here before and I’ve seen guys take their chances.

“What better time to do that than against the All Blacks at Twickenham?

“What a great opportunity for these guys to come in and give us more questions and selection headaches. I want these headaches and guys putting their hands up.”


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