Jack Nowell returns to England squad after 1,065 days with knee, ankle, appendix and quad injuries

Since Jack Nowell last started a game for England, Bitcoin’s value has risen 1000%, a global pandemic has swept the world, and Eddie Jones has launched his latest campaign for world domination.

It’s been 1,065 days since Nowell lined up against Scotland at Twickenham but on Sunday he will return to a team with new faces and a new identity.

“A lot of bloody things happened during this period,” he said on Saturday from the team’s hotel in Rome. “I had a second daughter, Zimi, who is now one and a half years old. I got engaged, so there’s a wedding to plan after Six Nations.

Jack Nowell is in line to make his first England start in almost three years on Sunday

‘The coronavirus has arrived. It’s scary how long it’s been. I had a lot of injuries and a lot of things happened, but my goals remained the same throughout.

On the day of Nowell’s final England start, he was joined on Matchday 23 by George Kruis, Nathan Hughes and Ben Te’o.

His body has since been cut open, his muscles sewn up and his bones repaired with metal screws. At times, it looked like the winger’s international career might suffer the same fate as some of his former teammates.

“For three years I didn’t play more than three games in a row,” he said. “Knee, ankle, appendix, toe ligaments, hamstring tears, quadriceps tears, calf tears. It was spiraling bad luck and different injuries and I made the mistake of rushing.

The winger (third from left) last played for England in March 2019 against Scotland

The winger (third from left) last played for England in March 2019 against Scotland

Nowell suffered a host of injuries and was dropped by England manager Eddie Jones

Nowell suffered a host of injuries and was dropped by England manager Eddie Jones

But he slammed back into the fold just in time for this year's Six Nations.

But he slammed back into the fold just in time for this year’s Six Nations.

England take on Italy on Sunday in Rome

England take on Italy on Sunday in Rome

If Eddie thought my time was up, then my time would be up. We had a few difficult conversations and I knew I needed time to rest properly. I am a positive person. I always wanted to be back here to play for England. I never closed that door. I made a lot of sacrifices and now it’s paying off.

From the hospital bed to the England team hotel in Italy, Nowell suddenly finds himself in the middle of Jones’ “New England” project.

Despite last week’s defeat in Scotland, there is renewed optimism around the young team.

The likes of Harry Randall, Marcus Smith and Alex Dombrandt were licensed to vibrate and Nowell, as if Elon Musk had invented time travel, was teleported to the heart of it.

“There are guys on the team that I’ve never met,” he said. “Obviously I use my experience to help some of the younger ones, but I feel a bit like a new boy.

The 28-year-old revealed that he and Jones had had

The 28-year-old revealed he and Jones had ‘difficult conversations’ in the past

“There’s a new team and a new vibe here now. It’s one of the tightest teams I’ve been involved with. It’s very close to a club environment. That talk in the corners is gone. There is excitement in wanting to move the ball and play rugby.

“They don’t want to be a team that sets up, kicks and chases. Obviously those are the fundamentals of the game, but we want to be a brave, exciting team that moves the ball and tries.

“When you have the players we have, we would be fools not to do that. It’s probably a little different mindset than it was before. We always had ideas, but did we have the conviction to really go out and do it?

“Now the coaches push us to try and not be afraid to make mistakes. If it works, great, and if it doesn’t, we’ll have another chance.

Harry Randall is an ambitious international newcomer who is desperate to become a fixture in the XV

Harry Randall is an ambitious international newcomer who is desperate to become a fixture in the XV

Jones believes Italy will provide suitable space for Alex Dombrandt on Sunday in Rome

Jones believes Italy will provide suitable space for Alex Dombrandt on Sunday in Rome

England went through the Calcutta Cup debriefing and video nasties. They did not manage to convert their chances and on Sunday they must make amends by achieving a good score in Rome.

Jones attempted to invoke the spirit of Muhammad Ali by showing footage of his upset world title victory over Sonny Liston – even though the Italian challenge looks more like an undercard event.

“Eddie has mentioned boxing a few times in meetings,” Nowell said. “Boxing and rugby are very different but we talk about their approach to fighting. It doesn’t always go your way in the ring, but you need determination to get through it.

“Gone are the days when you could go out and play a part in the Six Nations. Last year Italy came out and scored first. We expect a difficult and physical day. We have to earn the right to play the way we want to play.

England look to bounce back in style from first loss to Italy

England look to bounce back in style from first loss to Italy

“There are a few things to change from the match against Scotland, but they are small things. It only takes a moment or two to win or lose a game.

“If we had been a bit cleaner in certain situations, we could have won this game. As a young team, it can be a very beneficial learning experience for us.

“Bad times make good times better. I missed it all. I know what it’s like to be home watching TV – it’s shit.

“All the hard work has paid off, so I’m enjoying it and enjoying every moment.”

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