Monday 16 January 2017

Severe blow for Jones as Vunipola out of Six Nations

Nigel Whittaker

Published 28/11/2016 | 02:30

England head coach Eddie Jones Picture: PA
England head coach Eddie Jones Picture: PA

England number eight Billy Vunipola is likely to miss the Six Nations after the RFU ruled him out for at least three months with a knee injury sustained in Saturday's win over Argentina.

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Saracens' Vunipola had surgery yesterday to repair the torn cartilage he suffered in the 27-14 victory over the Pumas and will not be fit before the Six Nations starts on February 4.

'Vunipola will also be missed by Premiership leaders Saracens who resume the defence of the European Champions Cup next month.' Photo: David Davies/PA
'Vunipola will also be missed by Premiership leaders Saracens who resume the defence of the European Champions Cup next month.' Photo: David Davies/PA

"Billy's been absolutely fantastic for England over the last 11 months and we wish him a quick recovery," said England head coach Eddie Jones.

"He's a very influential player in the set-up and there's no doubt he'll be missed for the game against Australia (on Saturday)."

The Saracens back-row was replaced by Teimana Harrison in the 39th minute of the Twickenham encounter after he suffered the injury in a ruck as England tried to defend their line from an Argentine onslaught that eventually led to their first try of the match.

The 24-year-old attempted to carry on, but when he got back to his feet he was in obvious pain and an immediate decision was taken to replace him, with Vunipola eventually requiring a cart to take him off their field.

England are looking to seal an autumn series clean sweep when they face the Wallabies at Twickenham following victories against South Africa, Fiji and Argentina.

"We've had five or six frontline players missing throughout the series, so I've no doubt we'll adapt and work that little bit harder this week," added Jones. "I'm sure the players will respond to this by going up a level and peak for this game."

Vunipola will also be missed by Premiership leaders Saracens who resume the defence of the European Champions Cup next month.

Meanwhile, England winger Elliot Daly and Argentina prop, Enrique Pieretto will go before disciplinary hearings this week after they were sent off in Saturday's game. Wasps director of rugby Dai Young is hoping Daly won't be hit with a ban. "I really feel for him and I hope he doesn't get the double whammy of any length of ban."

Irish Independent

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