Cowan-Dickie gives England welcome fitness boost for autumn campaign

England have received a boost before their autumn international campaign begins next week with Luke Cowan-Dickie able to undertake light training in Jersey on Wednesday.

Eddie Jones would be facing a full‑blown crisis at hooker without the Exeter player but the forwards coach, Richard Cockerill, has revealed there is “every chance” Cowan-Dickie will return to full training next week before England’s opening Test against Argentina on Sunday week.

Cowan-Dickie’s return to fitness would be welcome for Jones, who is already wrestling with a captaincy dilemma at England’s five-day training camp in Jersey with both Courtney Lawes and Owen Farrell absent with head injuries. If neither is able to face the Pumas, Cowan-Dickie could conceivably come into the mix to take on the role as well as Tom Curry, who did so for the first two matches of this year’s Six Nations, and Ellis Genge.

It was Cockerill who signed Genge for Leicester six years ago and the England forwards coach has given the loosehead prop’s leadership credentials a glowing endorsement.

Cowan-Dickie sustained a knee injury in Exeter’s defeat by Saracens on Saturday and with Jamie George out with a foot problem England were already looking light at hooker. Without Cowan-Dickie, Jones’s options are restricted to Jack Singleton, who has made three Test appearances, and the uncapped George McGuigan.

“Luke took part in some units this morning,” Cockerill said. “As far as I’m aware, it’s settling down. There’s every chance that he will train fully next week. We’ve obviously got some quality hookers in and around the England squad and we have some injury concerns to guys that have been the favoured ones previously. But as you can imagine, if the opportunity arises, they’re working hard to be ready to take it.”

Genge has developed into one of England’s most influential players, having starred on the summer tour of Australia. Jones opted against giving Genge the captaincy in the summer of 2021, when Farrell, Lawes and Curry were away with the British & Irish Lions, but he went on to captain Leicester to the title last season and has established himself as one of the leading looseheads in the world.

“He is a fantastic player who leads by example,” Cockerill said. “He is having more and more influence off the field as well. He has been at Leicester and well coached and he understands how a team should run. The way he has handled himself and the way he plays, he has earned the respect of players and management and he has a key role in the leadership group within this team.

“He is really socially aware, he knows how he needs to behave and when he needs to do it. As he has matured he makes better choices about what he does. He is a guy you can trust, when things get tough he steps up to the mark.”

On his captaincy credentials, Cockerill said: “He’s done it at his club and done it well, so we know he has strong leadership qualifications. Eddie will have an idea of what he potentially wants to have as captain for the autumn, nobody has been ruled out of the captaincy equation. We’ve got guys that have captained their clubs and we’ve got guys leading behind the scenes in their own way.”