Manu Tuilagi and Henry Slade are on course to be fit for England's crunch Six Nations showdown with Ireland at Twickenham on Sunday.

Tuilagi suffered a groin injury early in England's defeat to France on the opening weekend of the tournament, while Slade has been out since sustaining an ankle injury in December.

The centres trained with the Rugby World Cup runners-up on Wednesday and could face joint-leaders Ireland this weekend.

England head coach Eddie Jones said: "Manu trained fully so should be in contention for selection. It's good to have a quality player back.

"Slade also trained so we have just got to monitor his progress. He has a positive chance. He's a quality player. This gives us more options."

One player who will play no part is prop Mako Vunipola, who flew to Tonga and is not available for "family reasons".

Jones says England are well stocked to cover for the absence of the British and Irish Lion, with Joe Marler and Ellis Genge vying for a start.

The Australian said: "Mako's a quality player but we are lucky we are blessed with two outstanding loosehead props in Joe and Ellis, so we can recover the loss of Mako.

"But it's disappointing to lose him."

Genge scored the winning try in a battling 13-6 defeat of Scotland before the rest weekend. 

Andy Farrell has named an unchanged side for Ireland's mouthwatering Six Nations clash with England at Twickenham on Sunday.

Fit-again back-row Caelan Doris replaces Max Deegan on the bench in the only alteration to the 23 following the victory over Wales.

Robbie Henshaw was withdrawn just five minutes into the second half of the 24-14 win over the defending champions last time out, but the centre has been passed fit to start alongside Bundee Aki.

CJ Stander remains at number eight after another man-of-the-match display against the holders, with blindside flanker Peter O'Mahony retaining his starting berth and Doris - who suffered a head injury on his debut versus Scotland - among the replacements.

Ireland are joint-top of the table with France after winning their first two games and will be out for revenge after losing to Eddie Jones' side twice last year.

 

Ireland: Jordan Larmour, Andrew Conway, Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki, Jacob Stockdale, Johnny Sexton (captain), Conor Murray; Cian Healy, Rob Herring, Tadhg Furlong, Iain Henderson, James Ryan, Peter O’Mahony, Josh van der Flier, CJ Stander.

Replacements: Ronan Kelleher, Dave Kilcoyne, Andrew Porter, Devin Toner, Caelan Doris, John Cooney, Ross Byrne, Keith Earls.

 

 

England prop Mako Vunipola will miss the crunch Six Nations clash with Ireland at Twickenham on Sunday for family reasons.

Vunipola made his first appearance of the tournament in the victory over Scotland but will not face Ireland after travelling to Tonga.

Ellis Genge could be handed a start after scoring the winning try in the Calcutta Cup clash at Murrayfield. Alternatively, Joe Marler could come back into the side, with the uncapped Beno Obano offering another option.

Fit-again centres Manu Tuilagi and Henry Slade were among the 33 names included by Eddie Jones for England's first home match of the tournament.

The Rugby World Cup runners-up were beaten by France in their opening match before edging out Scotland in brutal conditions in Edinburgh, while Ireland have won two out of two.

 

England squad:

Forwards: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Tom Curry, Tom Dunn, Ben Earl, Charlie Ewels, Ellis Genge, Jamie George, Maro Itoje, George Kruis, Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes, Lewis Ludlam, Joe Marler, Beno Obano, Kyle Sinckler, Will Stuart, Sam Underhill, Harry Williams.
    
Backs: Elliot Daly, Ollie Devoto, Fraser Dingwall, Owen Farrell, George Ford, George Furbank, Willi Heinz, Jonathan Joseph, Jonny May, Henry Slade, Ollie Thorley, Manu Tuilagi, Jacob Umaga, Ben Youngs.

Temba Bavuma will miss South Africa's opening Twenty20 international against Australia on Friday due to a hamstring strain.

The 29-year-old batsman suffered the injury when fielding in the high-scoring T20 defeat to England on Sunday and will sit out the upcoming Wanderers clash.

Cricket South Africa (CSA) said Bavuma could return for Sunday's second game in their three-match series against Australia and there would be no replacement called into the 16-player squad.

"The recommended recovery time for the injury is seven to 10 days," said CSA. "He will remain with the team and receive treatment from the medical staff."

Bavuma blasted a rapid 49 off just 24 balls at the top of the order in a five-wicket loss at SuperSport Park as England sealed a 2-1 series win.

West Indies women will get their T20 World Cup in Australia off to a start this Saturday with an opener against Thailand but have much improvement to make if they are to reach the heady heights they have in recent times.

There will be two groups of five competing for progress to the semi-finals, with the top two from each group making it through.

The West Indies find themselves in Group B along with England, South Africa, Pakistan and Thailand.

West Indies had a successful tournament in 2018, reaching the semi-finals before being knocked out by the eventual champions Australia. Whilst their form in the format has not been ideal over the last few years, they still have some of the most exciting players in the tournament lining up for them.

Deandra Dottin is among the best attacking batters in the world, particularly if she's facing spin - in the last two years she scores at 8 runs per over against spinners, and only gets out every 38 balls.

With ball in hand, captain Stafanie Taylor will be looking to Shakera Selman to make inroads at the top of the inning - nobody swings the ball more than her over the last two years of T20I cricket, and on the hard fast pitches of Australia, movement through the air will be crucial.

If all goes to plan, West Indies will be more than confident of progressing to the knockout stages.

England made the final in the last edition of the T20 World Cup before, like West Indies, being eliminated by Australia. Heather Knight's side are still somewhat in transition, but a new-found balance relying on Nat Sciver to bowl four overs has allowed them to play an extra specialist batsman - it's given the batting line-up some serious oomph. On the bowling side of things, Sophie Ecclestone is a very important part of the English attack. A tall left-arm orthodox spinner, no player has taken more wickets for England in T20Is since the start of 2018 than Ecclestone, with 35 wickets in that time at an average of 16.82. Offering control as well as attacking threat, she'll be the likely fulcrum of the England attack. Knight will see anything but progress from the group as abject failure, and they'll be eager to go all the way.

Pakistan bowl 76 per cent spin over the last two years - that’s the most of any team in the world during that period. Much like Bangladesh in Group A, this does at least give them a clear blueprint to work to a basic structure they can focus on in the absence of many acclaimed stars. If they have one standout player it's Bismah Maroof, who has notched up 782 T20I runs in the last two years, comfortably the most of any Pakistan batter and the 11th most for anyone in the world. If anyone in Pakistan green is going to spring a shock on the opposition, it'll be her.

In contrast to Pakistan, 76 per cent of the deliveries sent down from South Africa over the last two years, come from pace bowlers, the most of any side in the competition. They were a disappointment at the last T20 World Cup, not reaching the semi-finals. Their bowling is mixed, but their batting is likely to focus around a few key individuals, and one in particular. Alyssa Healy is renowned as an absolute colossus, but Chloe Tryon - at least statistically - is almost keeping pace with her. A powerful left-hander, Tryon is particularly effective against spin bowling, rocketing along at 8.6 runs per over (compared to 7.6 runs per over against seamers). The South African has a particular preference for hitting off spinners, scoring 180  from 113 deliveries against off-break bowlers in T20I cricket. Given how much spin is bowled in T20 cricket, this sets Tryon apart, her strength and power meaning that she doesn’t need pace on the ball to cause damage - South Africa will be looking to her to really lift the scoring rate when she’s at the crease.

Thailand are the most notable presence at this T20 World Cup, an unfamiliar presence in top-level cricket for both men and women. However, much of their success in recent years and in qualification is down to Nattaya Boochatham. A skilful right-arm seamer, Boochatham has taken a lot of wickets since the start of 2018; in fact, in that time period, only Poonam Yadav has taken more international T20 wickets than Boochatham. Undoubtedly, this has been given a boost by the standard of opposition that Thailand have been facing, but it’s been Boochatham who has done the damage in those matches. If Thailand are going to lay a glove on any side at this tournament, she’ll have to be at her best.

Eoin Morgan said there was "no limit" to England's batting potential after their second-highest Twenty20 run chase secured a thrilling 2-1 series win over South Africa.

The Proteas capitalised on dream batting conditions to post a mammoth 222-6 in the decider at SuperSport Park on Sunday, Heinrich Klaasen top-scoring with 66 from only 33 balls.

That was not enough to prevent the tourists from winning a run-fest by five wickets with five balls to spare, captain Morgan matching his own record for the fastest T20 half-century by an England batsman.

Morgan bludgeoned 57 not out from only 22 balls - striking seven sixes - after Jos Buttler (57 from 29) and Jonny Bairstow (64 off 34) also flexed their muscles in Centurion.

Skipper Morgan believes England sent out a message to their rivals with the T20 World Cup in Australia on the horizon.

"It creates belief that you can chase down anything and it reinforces what our method is in chasing big totals down," said the England captain, named man of the match and series.

"It's a reference point to what we can do, there’s no limit on restricting yourself to certain things. You want to leave everything out there with the bat.

"It won’t always work but it will give us the best chance of winning.

"Moving forward from this series, our learning will continue to get better, hopefully, because I don't think we’ve played at our best in this series."

Morgan also gave his backing to Buttler, although he did not believe the wicketkeeper-batsman was at his devastating best at the top of the order.

"I'm delighted for Jos," Morgan told Sky Sports. "I think he has as much talent as somebody like AB de Villiers; it took De Villiers a long time, and a lot of games, to get going in a South African shirt.

"We need to back guys that have that sort of talent; Jos has been around a long time now and we know that when he delivers, we win games of cricket. It's great to see him back in the runs.

"I think the priority at the moment is to get the top three facing as many balls as they can - they are the most destructive players that we have.

"If that changes between now and the World Cup, and we feel the need to fill a gap somewhere, then we might change it but, for the moment, it's an extremely destructive batting line-up to play against."

Eoin Morgan matched his own record for the fastest half-century by an England batsman in a Twenty20 international as the tourists clinched a 2-1 series victory over South Africa after a SuperSport Park thriller.

Heinrich Klaasen blasted 66 from only 33 balls after Temba Bavuma (49 off 24) and Quinton de Kock (35 from 24) laid the platform for the Proteas, who posted an intimidating 222-6 at Centurion on Sunday.

England embraced the challenge of pulling off their second-highest successful run chase in the shortest format to turn the series around, Morgan making an astonishing 57 off 22 deliveries as they got home with five balls and five wickets to spare.

Captain Morgan struck seven sixes, equalling the England record of a 21-ball fifty that he set against New Zealand last year, after explosive knocks from Jos Buttler (57 from 29) and Jonny Bairstow (64 off 34).

There were 28 sixes in a contest which proved to be a batsman's paradise at altitude, with England ending a successful tour on a high note after also coming from behind to secure a 3-1 Test triumph and draw the ODI series.

De Kock capitalised on winning the toss by delivering a brutal onslaught along with Bavuma, the openers needing only 22 balls to get 50 on the board.

The captain disdainfully hammered Chris Jordan for three consecutive sixes, with Mark Wood also given the treatment before De Kock struck Ben Stokes (2-35) to Bairstow in the deep.

Bavuma drilled Adil Rashid's first ball over the rope, but the spinner got a measure of revenge when he bowled him one short of a half-century and Stokes struck again to see the back of Rassie van der Dussen.

Klaasen, in for JJ Smuts, then took centre stage, racing to a half-century in 25 balls, with 23 runs coming off an over from a struggling Wood.

David Miller made only nine in a fourth-wicket stand of 66 with Klaasen, whose scintillating knock was ended by Tom Curran (2-33), but his unbeaten 35 got South Africa up to their fifth-best T20 total.

In England's response, a fine catch from Tabraiz Shamsi sent Jason Roy on his way in Lungi Ngidi's second over before Buttler set about the returning Dale Steyn and took only 23 deliveries to reach his half-century.

Bairstow also looked ominous, dispatching Shamsi and Bjorn Fortuin into the crowd as the 100 mark came up inside nine overs, but Buttler gave it away when he was caught ramping Dwaine Pretorius.

The clean-striking Bairstow was bowled by Andile Phehlukwayo, having nailed three sixes, and England needed 78 from 38 when Dawid Malan - replacing the unwell Joe Denly - edged behind in a superb over from Shamsi.

Morgan middled Pretorius over the fence twice in the next over to silence the crowd and did the same to Ngidi after ending Steyn's spell with a six.

Stokes launched Phehlukwayo for back-to-back sixes before an incredible stand of 61 off 4.3 overs was ended when he holed out to Ngidi.

An imperious Morgan struck another two sixes in that same penultimate over from Ngidi, and Moeen Ali struck the winning runs after both he and the skipper offered chances to Pretorius.

Elliot Daly has followed Jamie George's lead by signalling his intent to remain with relegated Saracens.

The English and European champions will drop down into the Championship next season after breaching the Premiership's salary cap rules.

Uncertainly surrounded several of Sarries' international stars but England hooker George became the first to commit his future to the club earlier this week.

Club and international team-mate Daly has now announced his intention to do likewise.

"My plan is probably pretty similar to Jamie. I am still in contract," said Daly, whose immediate focus remains with England and the Six Nations. 

"At the moment I am not thinking about that. It is coming but we have the rest of the season to sort it out. 

"At the moment, I am just thinking about the next couple of games with England and then when I get back to Sarries then start talking about next year."

It has been an interesting start to life at Sarries for Daly, who walked straight into the crisis at Allianz Park following England's Rugby World Cup final defeat.

However, he has no regrets about leaving Wasps, despite the off-field issues at his new club.

"My first day wasn't the best. It's a big thing and it's not to be taken lightly, but the way Saracens dealt with the players I thought was really good," Daly added.

"I didn't see this coming, but I definitely don't have any regrets joining. The way that we train, the players there, the coaching staff - it's an amazing club to be at.

"When a club like Saracens want to sign you, the best team in Europe as they were at that time, it's a no-brainer to go and play with some very good people."

Tom Curran held his nerve at the death as England levelled the Twenty20 series against South Africa in dramatic fashion at Kingsmead.

A high-scoring contest went down to the wire as the Proteas, chasing 205 to move into an unassailable 2-0 lead, needed three from the last ball - the same task England had failed to achieve in the opening game.

Once again, the bowling side managed to escape with the victory, Bjorn Fortuin only able to paddle a slower delivery from Curran to the hands of the back-pedalling Adil Rashid at short fine leg.

Having started the final over needing 15, Dwaine Pretorius followed up a six with a cover-driven four to reduce the equation to five off three.

A scampered two tipped the balance even further in favour of South Africa, yet Curran dismissed Pretorius lbw before deceiving new man Fortuin with a clever change of pace.

The finish was in keeping with an eventful game that ebbed and flowed throughout. England were indebted to a fast start and a devastating finish as they made 204-7, only for Quinton de Kock to produce a one-man onslaught during the powerplay.

South Africa's limited-overs captain had smashed eight sixes to make 65 from just 22 balls, the last of which saw him swing a high full toss from Mark Wood out to Ben Stokes on the deep midwicket boundary.

Temba Bavuma (31), David Miller (21) and Pretorius (25) made contributions and Rassie van der Dussen finished up unbeaten on 43, but the Proteas came up narrowly short.

England, meanwhile, live to fight another day, with the result setting up a winner-takes-all showdown at SuperSport Park on Sunday.

They had posted their sixth highest T20 total after being put into bat, despite losing the dangerous Jos Buttler for just two. Jason Roy followed up his knock of 70 on Wednesday with 40 at the top of the order, while Jonny Bairstow belted 35 from just 17 deliveries.

Yet it was Moeen Ali who played the crucial hand. Having arrived at the crease with the innings wobbling slightly at 125-5, he was the catalyst for a late blitz of boundaries that yielded 79 runs from the final five overs.

The all-rounder hit four sixes, including one extraordinary sliced drive over point from a Lungi Ngidi full toss, in an 11-ball knock of 39, while Stokes made his highest T20 score at international level as he finished on 47 not out.

England are likely to welcome back Manu Tuilagi for the crunch Six Nations clash with Ireland next week, but Anthony Watson remains out of action.

Centre Tuilagi remained with the England squad after suffering a groin injury in the opening defeat in France, although he did not feature as the Rugby World Cup finalists bounced back against Scotland.

The Leicester Tigers star should be able to feature at Twickenham a week on Sunday, though, head coach Eddie Jones revealed.

England face Ireland, who have won two matches from two so far - beating defending Grand Slam champions Wales last week - to join France at the top of the Six Nations table.

Alongside Tuilagi, England could be boosted by a return for Henry Slade, the 26-year-old having been out with an ankle injury since December.

"Manu is looking very good," Jones told Sky Sports News. "Very promising. He should be in full training by the start of next week.

"Henry Slade ran today and we've yet to get a medical report. It's definitely promising but too early to say whether he will be alright for Ireland or not."

However, Watson - another man, like Slade, yet to feature in the campaign - is still struggling with a calf injury picked up on the eve of the competition.

"Anthony Watson is still a couple of weeks away," Jones said.

Jamie George will continue playing at Saracens next season despite the club's demotion from the Premiership.

The English and European champions have been relegated to the Championship for breaching salary cap regulations, leading to uncertainty over the future of several of the club's star names.

England hooker George is one of several internationals plying their trade at Allianz Park, but he told Sky Sports he will continue to play for Saracens in the second tier.

"I'm pretty sure I'm staying," he said.

"The details of it I'm not too sure about, but I'll be staying at the club and using it for different purposes, but I'll certainly be playing some rugby next year."

George is the first player to publicly announce he is staying put, but it was reported last month that Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje, Elliot Daly and the Vunipola brothers, Billy and Mako, will stay after three-way talks between Sarries, England, and the British and Irish Lions.

Although unwilling to speak for his team-mates, George believes others will follow his decision.

"I haven't spoken to the other boys," he said. "My decision's been made purely from a personal point of view and I wouldn't want to speak on their behalf, but it's looking that way."

Last week, Saracens were also fined €50,000 for fielding Titi Lamositele against Racing 92 without a valid work permit but avoided expulsion from the European Champions Cup.

South Africa defeated England by one run after an astonishing finish to the first T20 international at Buffalo Park.

Chasing 178, England looked poised for victory after Jason Roy scored a rapid 70 and captain Eoin Morgan added a vital 52 that included some clutch late boundaries.

The tourists only needed seven from the last seven balls but Morgan holed out to long on to set up a tense finale before a tremendous last over from Lungi Ngidi (3-30) saw him remove Tom Curran and Moeen Ali.

Adil Rashid was left needing three from the final delivery for victory or two to force a super over, but he could only manage one as the returning Dale Steyn and captain Quinton de Kock combined for a runout that sparked joyous scenes in East London.

Earlier, South Africa were well set for a huge total before England recovered to limit them to 177-8.

Roy's superb innings – which saw him become the country's first player to score three consecutive T20I fifties - took just 38 balls with seven fours and three sixes as Morgan's men made a strong start to their reply.

Morgan appeared ready to put the finishing touches on a strong run chase but a dramatic conclusion meant it was South Africa who took a 1-0 lead in the three-match rubber, with their opponents finishing agonisingly short on 176-8.

England are now in danger of losing their first T20I series since July 2018 and this morale-denting defeat was an unwelcome start to a year that builds towards the T20 World Cup in October.

Keaton Jennings and Ben Foakes have been recalled for England's Test series in Sri Lanka but there is no place for Jonny Bairstow or James Anderson.

Jennings has not played for his country since being dropped following the series defeat to West Indies a year ago, but the opening batsman returns along with Foakes.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Foakes has also been overlooked since the loss in the Caribbean, despite making such an impressive start to his England career in Sri Lanka in November 2018.

Jennings and Foakes both scored centuries in a 3-0 whitewash of Sri Lanka, where the latter was named man of the series.

Bairstow was brought back into the Test squad for the recent 3-1 win in South Africa, but failed in both innings of the defeat at Centurion and played no part in the rest of the series.

The Yorkshireman misses out along with Anderson, who will continue his recovery from the cracked rib suffered in the second Test at Newlands to prepare for the English season.

"Jonny Bairstow has been in England squads across the three formats without a significant break," said national selector Ed Smith. "This two-Test tour presents a good opportunity for Jonny to be rested.

"Jimmy Anderson will continue to work with Lancashire and the ECB so that he is ready for the start of the County Championship season leading into the Test series against the West Indies in June."

All-rounder Moeen Ali remains unavailable selection in the longest format, but fellow spinner Jack Leach has recovered from illness to take his place in the 16-man squad.

Uncapped leg-spinner Matt Parkinson is also included for the two-match series, which starts in Galle on March 19.

 

England squad: Joe Root (captain), Dom Bess, Stuart Broad, Jos Buttler, Zak Crawley, Sam Curran, Joe Denly, Ben Foakes, Keaton Jennings, Jack Leach, Matt Parkinson, Ollie Pope, Dom Sibley, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) described reports linking Rassie Erasmus with the England job as "100 per cent inaccurate", insisting no approach has been made for the South African to replace head coach Eddie Jones.

Speculation emerged from South Africa that England were lining up Rugby World Cup-winning Springboks coach Erasmus to succeed Jones.

Erasmus, who reverted back to his position as director of rugby after overseeing South Africa's victory over England in Japan last November, attended Saturday's Six Nations clash between Jones' side and Scotland at Murrayfield.

However, the RFU distanced itself from speculation after England boss Jones ended a run of back-to-back defeats.

"The reports are 100 per cent inaccurate. There has been no meeting. There have been no talks whatsoever about any position at the RFU," said RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney.

Jones and England kick-started their Six Nations campaign with a 13-6 win over rivals Scotland in Edinburgh.

England now have blockbuster clashes looming against Ireland and Wales in Europe's annual six-team Test competition, which could be in line for change.

South Africa are reportedly in line to join the Six Nations after the 2023 World Cup, but Jones is against the proposal.

"It's called the greatest rugby tournament in the world and I think it is," Jones said. "So why would you want to add other teams that are going to decrease the level of competition? I can only talk from experience.

"Super Rugby was the golden egg of rugby: 12 teams, brilliant, competitive. As soon as it expanded it lost its allure. You want the best teams playing against each other.

"There's something about the Six Nations – because of the history of the relationships between the nations – that makes it outstanding. There is a lot of meaning to a lot of people for a game like this."

Mark Boucher said missed opportunities cost South Africa as they suffered a two-wicket defeat to England in the third and final ODI in Johannesburg.

Despite a late wobble with the bat, England claimed victory with 40 balls unused on Sunday to ensure the three-match series finished level at 1-1, the second game in Durban having been washed out.

Boucher felt his team were "30 to 40 runs short" when making 256-7 with the bat, while they then made an abysmal start with the ball as Jonny Bairstow (43 off 23 balls) got stuck into Lungi Ngidi and Beuran Hendricks.

Although South Africa fought back, dropped chances from Joe Denly and Tom Banton hindered their hopes of turning things around.

"We were probably 30 or 40 runs short and then, with the ball, we just started off really, really poorly and we were playing catch-up after that," said Boucher in a news conference.

"We had chances and we didn't take our opportunities. When you are 30 to 40 runs short, you have got to bowl well, especially up front, and you've got to take your opportunities.

"We didn't do that. That's why we lost."

South Africa and England both rested frontline players for the ODI series, and Boucher indicated the Proteas would continue to experiment in their next 50-over matches against Australia.

"It's a long time until the next [50-over] World Cup, so we can afford to do that," he added.

"There are a lot of good things that happened and a couple of things we need to work on, obviously, but it is quite difficult to judge over two games.

"We'll probably use the next three games against Australia to find out some answers and ask some questions. We do believe we're going in the right direction."

Former skipper Faf du Plessis is likely to return against Australia, though, after being rested and replaced as captain by Quinton de Kock for the ODI and T20 series with England.

"We feel at this point in time he [Du Plessis] needs a bit of a break away from the game," Boucher explained.

"I would like to think, against Australia, the rest will be enough and they [Du Plessis and Kagiso Rabada] can come back and play."

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