England v Australia: Nathan Hughes ready to replace Billy Vunipola, says Paul Gustard

Nathan Hughes

England v Australia
Venue: Twickenham Date: Saturday, 3 December Kick-off: 14:30 GMT
Coverage: Listen live on BBC Radio 5 live at 14:30 GMT; text commentary on BBC Sport website.

Nathan Hughes is fit and ready to replace Billy Vunipola when England face Australia on Saturday, says assistant coach Paul Gustard.

Saracens number eight Vunipola will be out for at least three months after injuring a knee against Argentina.

Wasps forward Hughes, 25, missed the 27-14 win over the Pumas because of a foot problem, but is now back in camp.

“He’s had a weekend off, he’s feeling fresh, and he’ll crack on with training today,” Gustard told BBC Radio 5 live.

Gustard said Vunipola, 24, is a “huge loss”, but added his absence presents an opportunity for other players.

Along with Hughes, Jack Clifford and Josh Beaumont can also operate at number eight, while Teimana Harrison played there for the whole of the second half against Argentina.

“We’ve got options,” said Gustard. “We will look around at what the best fit is and we will try some different combinations [in training].

“When somebody gets injured, it is an opportunity for somebody else to step in. Other players need to step up to the mark and take their chance.”

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Cheika and Jones joust in build-up

Following the victory over Argentina, England head coach Eddie Jones accused the Australian media of showing disrespect towards his team.

The Australian also voiced his concerns over the way the Wallabies scrummage.

Australia boss Michael Cheika responded by saying Jones has tarnished his legacy in his homeland as a result of his “vitriol”.

“Eddie’s legacy is 11 months with England as far as we are concerned,” said Gustard.

“He’s helping foster a culture and environment of a team that can win things.”

However, scrum coach Neal Hatley admits the England management do have “concerns” over the way Australia scrummage.

“We are not going to be pointing them out to anybody,” he told BBC Radio 5 live. “We pride ourselves on the way we scrummage, and we will back the referee to do what he’s got to do.”

England on verge of history

Jones’ side are one win away from equalling the England record of 14 straight victories, set by Sir Clive Woodward’s men in 2003.

Centre Jonathan Joseph told BBC Radio 5 live: “I wasn’t aware of that, but I don’t think records are a thing we are massively focused on.

“We treat every game individually. We want to go out there and give our fans and our families what they deserve, which is another win.”

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