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England in Argentina: Newcomers get early chance to stake World Cup claim

Danny Care: Has an important role to play as one of the experienced heads on tour.
Danny Care: Has an important role to play as one of the experienced heads on tour.
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Chris Robshaw trained alone as England prepared for the two-Test tour of Argentina with a final session at Twickenham.

The former England captain has been nursing an ankle injury but defence coach Paul Gustard confirmed he has still been able to work in preparation for today’s flight to South America.

Chris Robshaw: Should be fit for England's first Test against Argentina after ankle injury.

Chris Robshaw: Should be fit for England's first Test against Argentina after ankle injury.

England head coach Eddie Jones will take an inexperienced group with him for Tests on June 10 and 17, with many of his key players in New Zealand on the British and Irish Lions tour.

Having someone of Robshaw’s standing available will be seen as key as England target a 2-0 victory over the Pumas.

Gustard said that the Harlequins flanker, as well as Wasps No 8 Nathan Hughes and Sale Sharks’ uncapped wing Denny Solomona, should be fit for the opener in San Juan.

“Everyone is good,” he said.

“Chris had a sore ankle so missed training on the field but did some different training. The other guys we had concerns about completely trained, so we are happy.”

Hooker Tommy Taylor and prop Nick Schonert were ruled out through injury earlier in the week, so having a fully-fit squad is a boost for Jones.

The touring party contains plenty of names unfamiliar to international rugby, with 18 uncapped members in the squad.

Gustard insists it is a chance for them to stake a claim to be included in further camps when those representing the Lions return, with experienced Argentina-bound campaigners Mike Brown, Danny Care and George Ford also key.

“I think for everyone it is an opportunity to put another claim on an England shirt,” he said. “We always say that you borrow the shirt, it is yours for 80 minutes, it is your responsibility to take the team forward on and off the pitch.

“Those guys (Brown, Care and Ford) have had a great career with England with us over the last year-and-a-half, and we are looking forward to them continuing that in the next two games.”

The 2019 World Cup should be seen as a target for those newcomers looking to impress Jones and his coaching staff.

Gustard even believes those who are involved in Argentina actually have an early advantage in the race to make the squad for Japan in two years’ time.

“It is huge for everyone,” he said. “There are 15 guys with the Lions, give or take, we have got 31-32 guys who will tour with us and from that group we need to select a 30-odd group for the World Cup in 2019.

“Everyone has got a place to play for. The 30 guys here are the front-runners because they are here with us, so it is a great opportunity to see how they act in camp, off the field and obviously on the field as well.”

Bonding the group was highlighted by Jones as a key aspect of preparation for the tour, with Gustard adding: “It is important you get that team ethos, that bonding between the group, the camaraderie going again, and there are lots of different bits and pieces we do to engender that.”