England have received a big injury boost ahead of their 2019 Six Nations opener against Ireland at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday, February 2nd.
Saracens’ Billy Vunipola looks set to play for his club this weekend in the Gallagher Premiership.
Vunipola has been absent since he fractured his arm while playing for Saracens in the Heineken Champions Cup against the Glasgow Warriors in October. As a result, he was absent from England’s Novembers Tests.
The powerful number eight has been named to start in the back-row for the English champions as they travel to the AJ Bell Stadium to take on the Sale Sharks.
Your first Saracens Men's side of 2019! ⚫🔴
The Men in Black face Sale Sharks on Friday night and look who's back 👀 pic.twitter.com/gVJooIfX3m
— Saracens Rugby Club (@Saracens) January 3, 2019
Meanwhile, Joe Launchbury is in contention to make a return this weekend after a lengthy injury layoff.
Launchbury has been absent since suffering a knee injury for Wasps in mid-September with resulting surgery ruling him out up until this point.
Wasps’ Director of Rugby Dai Young confirmed to Sky Sports that Launchbury could play this weekend as his side host Northampton Saints at the Ricoh Arena.
The timely return of these two players will be welcome news for Eddie Jones. With Sam Underhill now a doubt for the tournament due to suffering ankle ligament damage for Bath at the weekend, the return of Launchbury and Vunipola in particular is welcome.
England will be determined to improve on their disappointing showing last year where they finished fifth in the Six Nations table.
They will face a tough task in getting the better of Ireland in Dublin but a victory there would no doubt provide a huge confidence boost for the remainder of the competition.