Billy Vunipola has handed Eddie Jones and England a boost ahead of the 2019 Guinness Six Nations with his injury return set for this Friday.
The Saracens No.8 has had more than his fair share of injury issues in the last couple of years and missed the entirety of the 2018 Championship.
But after breaking both his arms in the last year – including back in October on club duty for Sarries – the No.8 will return for his club side on their trip north to Sale Sharks on Friday night.
Vunipola’s return is a real fillip for England who were without both him and Nathan Hughes for much of the autumn but saw Mark Wilson deputise impressively at the base of the scrum.
But while Vunipola is set for a return – there is concern elsewhere in the back row for the Red Rose with Sam Underhill in a fitness race for the 2019 Championship.
The openside flanker – so impressive this autumn particularly in the narrow defeat to England – has injured his ankle and a Bath statement suggested the problem is serious:
Jones will take solace from the return to form and fitness of Tom Curry – his No.7 last summer in all three Tests against South Africa.
Curry also this week signed a new contract with Sale Sharks that will keep him at the club until 2023.