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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Nick Purewal

‘Magic’ Henry Arundell ready to deliver for England in Six Nations after London Irish return

Injury return: Henry Arundell made his first London Irish appearance since October on Sunday

(Picture: Getty Images)

Steve Borthwick has been told not to hesitate to throw fit-again "magic" man Henry Arundell into England's Six Nations campaign.

London Irish head coach Les Kiss believes Arundell is ready for Six Nations action if called upon – even just one substitute cameo into his comeback after a three-month foot injury.

Arundell came off the bench in Irish's stunning 42-24 Gallagher Premiership victory over local rivals Harlequins in Brentford on Sunday.

The 20-year-old made his first appearance since suffering a foot injury in the Exiles' 22-21 home loss to Gloucester on October 21, looking sharp amid Irish's bonus-point derby win.

New head coach Borthwick has already admitted that he could draft Arundell into his England squad for the latter Six Nations rounds.

Arundell will definitely miss this Saturday’s opener against Scotland at Twickenham, but Kiss believes the back-three star could easily feature against Italy on February 12.

"I would say he's ready," said Kiss. "You have to accept that it won’t be perfect at this stage, but he can create things, magic things, we know that.

"And that’ll be the wise decision they make either way. They'll know that he can deliver. But I wouldn’t be afraid to throw him into anything, I just think the boy is something special.

"The only thing is match fitness, but those wise decisions will be made by people up there with England. But if they take him in I don’t think they will be disappointed. If they leave him with us, we’ll make sure we get him right."

England’s preparations for Saturday's Scotland clash have been hindered by a hip injury to Henry Slade. The Exeter centre will miss Borthwick's first match at the helm, though Leicester's Anthony Watson is back in the squad after a leg injury.

The pacy full-back has not played Test rugby since 2021 due mainly to a torn Achilles, but his return to the England camp offsets Slade's hip problem and the absence of Elliot Daly with a hamstring injury.

Courtney Lawes will definitely miss out on Saturday due to his gluteal strain, but Jamie George still has a chance of featuring. The Saracens hooker returned to the England squad on Sunday night, to continue his return-to-play protocols after concussion.

Influential senior stars Lawes and Slade will stay with the England squad to continue their recoveries, in what represents a clear sign that head coach Borthwick hopes to have both available for selection quickly.

England would have sent them back to their clubs for any lengthy rehabilitation, which raises the outside prospect of Lawes and Slade potentially being ready for the second-round Italy clash.

Irish's six-try victory over Quins saw academy wing Michael Dykes become only the third-ever Premiership debutant to bag a hat-trick. Arundell's return offers big fan Borthwick another England option though.

"We've been waiting for this for some time," said Kiss, of Arundell's return. "He has the abilities to get himself into and out of trouble. But that's who he is and we'll keep backing him."

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