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'He is one of those players that didn't have the escalator through the pathway... he's a fighter'

By Liam Heagney

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Mark Wilson has been on the receiving end of huge praise from Eddie Jones following his recall to the starting England team for Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations round one encounter versus Scotland at Twickenham.

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Jones’ preferred back row trio is Tom Curry and Sam Underhill packing down with Billy Vunipola and with Underhill absent for the start of this latest England campaign due to a hip injury, Wilson edged ahead of Ben Earl and Jack Willis in the selection battle to fill the vacancy. 

Wilson will start at blindside, with Curry taking over Underhill’s openside berth, and Jones sounded happy to have the 31-year-old back in the mix to earn his 20th cap and his twelfth England start.  

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Jonny Wilkinson and Gregor Townsend set the scene for this weekend’s Calcutta Cup clash
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Jonny Wilkinson and Gregor Townsend set the scene for this weekend’s Calcutta Cup clash

“He is a massively committed player,” enthused Jones about Wilson who made a 2017 debut away to Argentina and was last capped in the March 2020 Six Nations win over Wales. “He is one of those players that didn’t have the escalator through the pathway. 

“He had to fight his way all the way. He was in the academy, got kicked out of the academy, he went to university, played university rugby, so rugby means a lot to him and he is a fighter, mate, he’s a 100 per cent fighter.”

Newcastle skipper Wilson, who has had shoulder and hamstring problems this past year, offered the best solution to Jones in terms of selecting a combination minus the injured Underhill. “We picked the back row as a combination, six, seven and eight,” he said. 

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“With Underhill unfortunately unavailable we decided to shift Tom from six to seven. We were delighted with the way Billy finished the Autumn Cup. It looked like he was getting back to his best, so he fills the eight, and then we wanted a workrate player at six and Wilson is a great workrate player.”

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'He is one of those players that didn't have the escalator through the pathway... he's a fighter'

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