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Harrison likely to be first choice

Teimana Harrison and Dylan Hartley

Teimana Harrison (left, with captain Dylan Hartley) lasted 31 minutes during England’s first Test win over Australia in June

England head coach Eddie Jones says Northampton’s Teimana Harrison is the favourite to fill the troublesome open-side flanker spot against South Africa.

England have been hit by injuries in the back row, with James Haskell, Sam Jones and Mike Williams all ruled out, along with the versatile Maro Itoje.

Harrison, 24, lasted just half an hour in England’s last Test match against Australia in Sydney.

“He’s gone back and worked on his game very hard,” Jones told BBC Sport.

“His last game against Castres was exceptional and he’s probably our number one choice open-side flanker at the moment.”

Meanwhile Jones says the recalled flanker Tom Wood has a “great chance” of being selected this autumn.

Wood was dropped following the Rugby World Cup, with Jones telling him his performances were “distinctly average”.

“He’s improved his work-rate, his impact as a ball carrier, and he’s certainly above average now,” Jones added.

“He’s got very good lineout skills and his breakdown work has improved. So we are excited about him being in the squad.

“His [lineout work] gives him a great chance of being selected.”

Jones has selected six uncapped players in his 33-man squad, but has played down their chances of being selected against the Springboks on 12 November.

“Making your debut against South Africa is probably not the right game to make your debut,” Jones explained.

England travel to Portugal for a training camp on Sunday, hoping to avoid a repeat of the last gathering in Brighton which resulted in three players suffering serious injuries.

“We will be doing everything in our power to make sure we have an injury-free camp,” Jones said.

“But having said that we need to prepare for international rugby and we will train with intensity.”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/rugby-union/37773444