England scrum coach Neal Hatley insists the decision to drop George Kruis for Saturday’s clash with Australia is a result of their “ridiculous riches” at lock.
Kruis has been overlooked for the second autumn international at Twickenham, losing his place in the 25-man squad retained for the match to Charlie Ewels following a below-par display against Argentina.
The indications from training on Wednesday morning were that Joe Launchbury and Courtney Lawes could form the second row for the Wallabies’ visit, although Maro Itoje is also in contention after being rested last weekend.
It continues a disappointing year for Kruis, who was dropped after the first British and Irish Lions Test in New Zealand and had been viewed as an indispensable line-out technician but now misses England’s biggest home game of the year.
“In part, George is out because of load management and in part because it’s an area that we’ve got ridiculous riches in,” Hatley said.
“It’s a reflection on how that group of second rows are training and pushing each other and getting better. We’ve got some really good players and unfortunately some people have to leave early in the week and it’s George’s turn this week.
“We know he has contributed massively and he’s part of a very, very good second row unit. It’s a really tough group to select from.
“He did well for us last weekend and he’s been playing well for his club, as have Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes, Charlie Ewels and Nick Isiekwe.”
Launchbury’s inclusion over Kruis is likely to be the only change to the pack when Eddie Jones names his team on Thursday morning.
Mike Brown is undergoing the return to play protocols for concussion but England insist he remains in contention against Australia, while Jonny May is poised to return to the starting XV along with Owen Farrell.
May has recovered from a hamstring strain while Farrell was rested for the 21-8 victory over Argentina.
“Mike is still in protocol, obviously the concussion protocol, so we’ll have a much clearer picture by tomorrow (Thursday),” Hatley said.
“We’ve trained for if he doesn’t play so we’ve covered those bases and if that’s the case then we’re set for it, but we’ll make that decision based on all the right information.”