Sam Underhill urges England’s rookies to make the most of ‘brilliant chance’

Sam Underhill has told England’s rookies they have a “brilliant chance” to turn Test debuts into a shot at World Cup 2023 with Eddie Jones’ side.

England dished out their highest number of Test debuts since 1947 in Sunday’s 43-29 win over the USA at Twickenham, with 12 players winning their first caps.

Head coach Jones’ men will complete their summer endeavours by hosting Canada in west London on Saturday, looking to build on last week’s enterprising but loose victory.

England v USA – Summer Series 2021 – Twickenham Stadium
Sam Underhill, centre, powers forward for England against the USA (David Davies/PA)

England are without 12 British and Irish Lions tourists and several rested senior men, allowing boss Jones the chance to cast the net wide with the 2023 World Cup firmly in mind.

Bath flanker Underhill made his Test debut on England’s 2017 tour to Argentina while the Lions were in New Zealand – later working his way in to become a pivotal part of the drive to the 2019 World Cup final.

And now the 24-year-old has told his inexperienced new England team-mates to seize this opportunity to stake a claim for the future.

“It’s a brilliant chance; four years ago was my first involvement,” said Underhill.

“It was a great tour, and a few lads started their involvement there.

“You can’t look too far ahead, you look at what’s immediately in front of you.

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“And when you get a chance to be involved in a camp like this it’s imperative that you make the most of it.

“Because you never know what’s around the corner.

“So we speak quite a lot as a group about just being as good as we can be every day, and trying to get better as rugby players.

“And that’s all ultimately that we can do, selection is obviously out of our hands.

“So it’s a good environment to be in, because it gives you something to get after straight away.

“You don’t look too far in the future, you don’t look behind you, all you worry about is playing rugby, and doing it well. So it’s a good place to be.”

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England must do without Max Malins for Saturday’s Canada encounter, with the Saracens flyer having suffered shoulder ligament damage against the USA.

Underhill has 23 caps heading into what should be the prime of a hugely-exciting career, and the powerful flanker admitted hoping to push back towards his best now previous hip issues are in the past.

“I hope my best years aren’t behind me!” said Underhill. “It’s an exciting group to be a part of.

“This weekend we’d be expecting, again, a pretty physical battle, a lot of big men, lots of carries off nine, and a decent team and ourselves a group that haven’t played that much together.

“So we’ll be looking forward to playing together again and hopefully fine-tuning some things from last week. So we want more out of ourselves again.

“And it’s an exciting time to be around the group. There’s 30-odd lads here, 12 more away with the Lions and a few more out there that will be coming back at some point I’m sure.

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“So it’s incredibly competitive but very good-natured and fun to be a part of.”

Harlequins flanker Jack Kenningham has withdrawn from the England squad after being advised to isolate by the NHS Covid-19 app.

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) confirmed Kenningham’s withdrawal, ahead of Saturday’s Test against Canada at Twickenham on Saturday.

“Jack Kenningham has withdrawn from the England squad after being contacted and advised to isolate by the NHS Covid-19 app,” read an RFU statement.

“An England staff member has also been contacted by the app, which has identified them as being in the vicinity of someone who has tested positive for Covid-19.

“Both will self isolate as a precaution and in line with government advice. Neither has tested positive for Covid-19 and the squad and staff group continue to undergo daily testing.”