(Reuters) - England prop Mako Vunipola deserves his place in Eddie Jones’s Rugby World Cup squad despite a hamstring injury ruling him out of their opening games, World Cup winner Will Greenwood said.
Vunipola required surgery after his hamstring detached from the bone in Saracens’ Champions Cup final victory over Leinster in May and suffered a tear of the scar tissue during England’s 57-15 rout of Ireland last month.
The 28-year-old will miss at least the first two World Cup games, against Tonga on Sept. 22 and the United States four days later, but former England centre Greenwood said some players were too influential to drop over niggles.
“There are certain players who you’ve just got to go ‘get on the plane’ whether you’ve got a knock or not,” Greenwood, part of the 2003 World Cup-winning squad, told Sky Sports.
“Very rarely after four warmup games so close to a World Cup are you going to have all 31 players 100 percent fit ready to compete. You don’t want to exclude someone from the opportunity of going because of a slight hamstring niggle.”
England, who will also miss the services of injured winger Jack Nowell for the first two World Cup games, warmed up for the tournament with matches against Wales, Ireland and Italy.
“If you go and have test matches against New Zealand and South Africa you might end up with 10 men in Japan with injuries,” Greenwood added.
“So there’s always got to be a balance between a thorough physical and mental test but at the same time you don’t want to sacrifice any players on the altar of one percent.
“It’s that tradeoff between wanting to be physically match fit but we want everyone available for selection and rugby poses that dilemma.”
England are in Pool C which also includes Argentina and France.
Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Ian Ransom