RWC 2019: Scott Wisemantel insists England will adapt to weather conditions

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England’s climax to the World Cup group stage against France is facing the triple threat of illness, injury and the approach of Super Typhoon Hagibis.

Captain Owen Farrell and hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie have been struck down by a stomach bug, while Billy Vunipola, Jack Nowell and Joe Marler are being treated for knocks sustained in Saturday’s victory over Argentina.

But the gravest danger posed to the Pool C decider could be from one of the most aggressive typhoons ever recorded, on course to wipe out both weekend matches being played at Yokohama.

The extreme weather event had initially threatened Ireland’s crunch fixture against Samoa in Fukuoka on Saturday but is now arrowing towards Tokyo and Yokohama, where it could have a significant impact on England’s all-Six Nations clash.

Hagibis has escalated from a tropical storm into a Category 5 super typhoon, with winds estimated at 160mph set to make it one of the most dramatic intensifications of any tropical cyclone since records began.

Such storms can fade and change direction and there have already been false alarms at this World Cup – but on its existing trajectory it is due to hit Tokyo and Yokohama this weekend.

Any games cancelled due to weather problems are registered as scoreless draws and would have no impact on the final standings as England and France have already qualified for the quarter-finals.

Efforts would be made to stage the game elsewhere but contingency plans have not been made public and any changes would cause havoc to the plans of travelling supporters.

Nearly 150,000 fans are due to attend the weekend’s two games at International Stadium Yokohama, including Sunday’s crunch showdown between Japan and Scotland that will help decide a ferociously competitive Pool A.

“We have no control over the weather and we have to prepare for the game and see how it goes,” attack coach Scott Wisemantel said.

“Regarding the permutation around the game and shared points, we are just concentrating on playing to win.

“I live in a bubble and I don’t know where the game would be played (if it is called off).

“One thing I have learnt in Japan is that they prepare for the worst and then usually it doesn’t eventuate.”

If Super Typhoon Hagibis fails to strike, then England’s plans still face the disruption of ranks thinned by injury and sickness.

Vunipola is the biggest concern as he continues his recovery from the twisted ankle sustained in Saturday’s bonus-point victory over Argentina, with Eddie Jones refusing to give a definitive update on his fitness.

Wisemantel confirmed that Vunipola is expected to be available for the knockout phase but insists no risks will be taken over his fitness against France.

Mark Wilson or Tom Curry will deputise for in a team that is likely to show several changes to the XV that defeated 14-man Argentina.

Jack Nowell made his comeback after four months out with an ankle problem against the Pumas but is suffering from stiffness in his left leg, while prop Joe Marler is struggling with a back problem and has also become a doubt.

The health and fitness of Farrell is worrying after he was the victim of a dangerous tackle against Argentina and what followed was a disappointing performance from the Saracens fly-half.

Wisemantel said: “The bump didn’t have any effect on him. I asked after the game and he said he felt pretty good, just a bit clunky with a few of the plays, but I thought he did outstandingly well.

“He’s a tough, competitive player who, if anything because he competes so hard, probably tries to over-rectify the situation.

“We haven’t had our final selection and we will do that tomorrow (Wednesday) evening.

“We need to look at whether it is worthwhile resting him, whether it isn’t, whether we keep it going – that is one for debate.”

Provided by Press Association Sport

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RWC 2019: Simon Easterby believes James Ryan will become an Ireland great

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James Ryan’s rare mix of humility and talent marks him out as a future Ireland great, according to Simon Easterby.

Fast-rising lock Ryan faces the biggest game of his embryonic Test career on Saturday when Ireland take on Samoa bidding to secure a World Cup quarter-final spot.

The 23-year-old has Leinster team-mate Dan Leavy to thank for the tongue-in-cheek nickname of ‘Big Cheese’, but forwards coach Easterby explains that in reality Ryan is as far away as possible from any ‘Big I Am’ persona.

Ryan is already being touted as a future Ireland captain, but Easterby backed the 21-cap second row to carve out a Test career of true renown whether he leads his country or not.

“He comes across as being quite quiet but actually he’s a real student of the game,” Easterby said.

“He works incredibly hard on the physical element, but certainly the mental part of the game too. There’s no ‘Big I Am’ about him, even though his nickname would suggest otherwise.

“He’s just a guy who will continue to grow and will continue to lead, whether that’s through having a ‘C’ next to his name or just through his actions.

“He will become one of the greats, I’ve no doubts about that.”

Ryan made his Test debut even before his senior bow with Leinster, such was Ireland’s faith in their fast-maturing lock.

The sharp-witted youngster came off the bench in Ireland’s 55-19 win over the United States in Harrison on June 10, 2017, and has stormed from strength to strength ever since.

“He’s come through the ranks, hasn’t he? We plucked him, I don’t think he’d even played a senior game for Leinster when we took him to the States to make his debut,” Easterby said.

“Maybe there were a few eyebrows raised at that. But he hasn’t disappointed.

“He’s a phenomenal athlete. He’s certainly on the right track currently. He works incredibly hard.

“And that I guess is the baseline for any great player: that they have the raw talent and the ability but that they also work incredibly hard. And he has all three.”

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RWC 2019: Cobus Reinach scores hat-trick as Springboks seal place in quarter-finals

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South Africa secured their place in the World Cup quarter-finals with an emphatic 66-7 victory over 14-man Canada in Kobe.

Canada, who conceded 48 points to Italy and 63 to New Zealand in their opening matches, again found the going tough in Pool B as they shipped 10 tries to the dominant Springboks.

Northampton’s Cobus Reinach helped himself to a hat-trick in the opening 20 minutes while influential fly-half Elton Jantjies kicked his way to 16 points.

Canada, who trailed 47-0 at the break, also had to play more than half the game with a man less after Josh Larsen was sent off for a shoulder charge into the head of Thomas Du Toit.

South Africa made 13 changes for the game but there was no problem with their cohesion as they raced in front with a try after just two minutes.

Damien De Allende, one of only two players retained in the starting line-up, profited from a break by RG Snyman to touch down and within three minutes S’busiso Nikosi went over in the corner for the second.

Reniach claimed his first after nine minutes as he gathered his own kick to cross and grabbed another following more powerful running by Snyman. He then sprinted half the length of the field to claim his third and South Africa scored again when Warrick Gelant weaved his way through the Canucks defence.

Canada’s night got even worse when Larsen was sent off before the break following a foul play review by the TMO and they were breached again when Frans Steyn crashed over from close range.

The Springboks made a slow start to the second half and Canada registered a consolation when Jeff Hassler drove to the line and Matt Heaton forced his way over.

Normal service was soon resumed, however, as veteran hooker Schalk Brits claimed a well-worked try and Damian Willemse – only recently drafted into the squad as an injury replacement – went over from a scrum.

Frans Malherbe powered through the defence for South Africa’s 10th try eight minutes from time.

Provided by Press Association Sport

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