Wednesday 7 December 2016

England's options at open-side flanker take another hit ahead of autumn internationals

Nick Purewal

Published 05/10/2016 | 16:36

File photo dated 05-12-2015 of Sam Jones of Wasps. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday October 6, 2016. Wasps have announced flanker Sam Jones fractured his right leg in England training this week. See PA story RUGBYU England. Photo credit should read Scott Heavey/PA Wire
File photo dated 05-12-2015 of Sam Jones of Wasps. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday October 6, 2016. Wasps have announced flanker Sam Jones fractured his right leg in England training this week. See PA story RUGBYU England. Photo credit should read Scott Heavey/PA Wire

Flanker Sam Jones is expected to miss England's autumn internationals after breaking his right leg in training.

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Wasps confirmed the 24-year-old suffered a fracture to his right fibula during England's training camp in Brighton.

Jones had been in contention to feature at openside flanker in England's November series, but must now instead wait to discover how long he will be sidelined.

Wasps academy graduate Jones suffered his injury blow in Tuesday's training during England's three-day camp in Brighton.

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) initially said Jones had suffered ankle damage, but Wasps released a statement on Wednesday confirming the fracture to his right leg.

"Following an X-ray, Wasps can confirm that back row forward Sam Jones has suffered a fracture of his right leg, fibula, during England training," said Wasps' statement.

"The club is awaiting the results of subsequent MRI scans and Jones will see a specialist on Friday afternoon to determine the extent of the injury."

Wasps rugby director Dai Young admitted Jones had suffered wretched timing with the injury after forcing his first senior England call.

"It's a big blow and I really feel for Sam, because he has worked his socks off for Wasps and deservedly got his call-up to England," said Wasps boss Young.

"Sam has been one of the first names on my team sheet this season and he will be a big loss for us, but we are lucky to have a lot of talented back rowers at the club who have already stepped up this season.

"My biggest disappointment is for Sam as he's been playing so well and I'm sure would have made a good impression in the England camp.

"These things happen, but you can't help but feel sorry for him. It's too soon to know how long he will be out, but our medics and physios will look after him and we look forward to having him back when he is ready."

Jones' injury almost certainly denies him the chance to compete with Leicester's Mike Williams for first refusal on England's vacant number seven shirt.

Wasps' James Haskell remains sidelined after toe surgery, leaving the openside role up for grabs. England boss Eddie Jones wants a "destructive defensive player" at seven in the absence of a "natural" openside.

Saracens' versatile lock Maro Itoje could yet move out to the flank, with Chris Robshaw continuing at blindside and Billy Vunipola at number eight.

Wasps flanker Jones' impending absence cuts Eddie Jones' resources once more though, with the England boss able to draft a replacement into his 45-man Elite Player Squad (EPS) if required.

Wasps' Guy Thompson was thought to have only narrowly missed the initial England call, so could now feature prominently in head coach Jones' thinking for how to cover this latest injury setback.

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