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Mako Vunipola faces an uphill battle to be fit in time to feature at the Rugby World Cup in Japan

Mako Vunipola in race to be fit for the Rugby World Cup as the England prop misses trip to Italy in a bid to speed up recovery on a torn hamstring

  • England prop Mako Vunipola faces a race to be fit for the Rugby World Cup
  • He is missing from the squad that flew to Italy on Wednesday for a ‘heat camp’ 
  • The injury setback came for Vunipola just 17 minutes into his Test comeback 
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Mako Vunipola faces an anxious race to regain full fitness in time for the start of the World Cup and England have been warned that Jack Nowell might not be ready to take part in the tournament.

As Eddie Jones and his squad flew out to Italy on Wednesday for another ‘heat camp’ in Treviso, they were forced to leave the older Vunipola brother behind for treatment on a torn hamstring. 

He suffered the setback just 17 minutes into his Test comeback, as a replacement against Ireland at Twickenham last Saturday.

Mako Vunipola faces an uphill battle to be fit in time to feature at the Rugby World Cup in Japan

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Mako Vunipola faces an uphill battle to be fit in time to feature at the Rugby World Cup in Japan

Eddie Jones left Vunipola out of the side that travelled to Italy on Wednesday for a 'heat camp'

Eddie Jones left Vunipola out of the side that travelled to Italy on Wednesday for a 'heat camp'

Eddie Jones left Vunipola out of the side that travelled to Italy on Wednesday for a ‘heat camp’

For now, the official prognosis remains up-beat. The RFU released a statement which described the Lions prop’s injury as a ‘small tear of scar tissue which will require approximately 10 days of rehabilitation’. 

England fly to Tokyo 10 days from now, on September 8. Jones will need to see proof that Mako is on course for a full recovery, in good time to be ready for the opening fixture against Tonga in Sapporo on September 22.

The concern is that Saracens’ world-class loosehead has incurred damage in the precise area where he required surgery, after his season ended in painful fashion during the Champions Cup Final in Newcastle, in May.

England have also been told that Jack Nowell may not be ready to feature at the tournament

England have also been told that Jack Nowell may not be ready to feature at the tournament

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England have also been told that Jack Nowell may not be ready to feature at the tournament

If he travels to the Far East as planned, he will be going in to the World Cup with just 17 minutes of action to his name in four months. 

Taking him then, will be a gamble, but at his best he is a supreme asset. 

Meanwhile, Nowell’s ankle injury means he has not played since the Premiership final in May. 

‘He’s going to be touch and go for involvement in the World Cup,’ Exeter’s director of rugby Rob Baxter told the BBC on Wednesday.

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