Luther Burrell’s international comeback is gathering pace after England drafted the Huddersfield-born centre into their squad bound for Australia.
Northampton’s Burrell replaces Manu Tuilagi among the 32 chosen for the three-Test series against the Wallabies after a torn hamstring ended the injury-ravaged British and Irish Lion’s involvement.
A try-scoring return in the 27-13 victory over Wales at Twickenham on Sunday was Burrell’s first Test since controversially losing out to Sam Burgess in selection for last autumn’s World Cup.
The 28-year-old was then overlooked for England’s subsequent march to the Grand Slam due to head coach Eddie Jones’s view that he was “grossly overweight”.
Now 8kgs lighter and having impressed Jones with his form at Franklin’s Gardens and his bulldozing try against Wales, he has been chosen over Ollie Devoto to replace Tuilagi knowing that he has a genuine chance of starting the first Test in Brisbane.
“It’s a great opportunity for Luther, who played really well against Wales. He carried the ball well, defended with aggression and scored an excellent try,” said Jones. “We want players who are desperate to play for their country and are willing to make the sacrifices needed to succeed at the highest level.
“Luther’s worked hard at his game since January and we’ve seen a significant improvement in his fitness and conditioning as a result. He thoroughly deserves his place on the tour. It was a tough selection call.”
Despite being omitted from the initial 32, Burrell could line up against Australia on Saturday week. Having seen his World Cup dream ended by the previous regime’s preference for Burgess, Burrell could act as England’s battering ram in Brisbane.
However, he takes no satisfaction from profiting from Tuilagi’s latest injury setback.
“It wasn’t a bitter-sweet moment for me when Manu was ruled out. Manu’s a good mate of mine and a good player,” said Burrell. “You want your strongest players on the field. He’s a great player, a good mate.”