Monday 23 April 2018

Billy Vunipola, Mike Brown and Chris Robshaw add to growing list of injury concerns for England

Billy Vunipola of Saracens goes off injured during the Aviva Premiership match between Saracens and Sale Sharks at Allianz Park on September 23, 2017 in Barnet, England. (Photo by Henry Browne/Getty Images)
Billy Vunipola of Saracens goes off injured during the Aviva Premiership match between Saracens and Sale Sharks at Allianz Park on September 23, 2017 in Barnet, England. (Photo by Henry Browne/Getty Images)

Duncan Bech

England face a host of injury concerns on the eve of their pre-autumn training camp in Oxford after Billy Vunipola topped a lengthy list of casualties incurred during the latest round of Aviva Premiership action.

Vunipola had to be helped from the pitch because of a knee problem in Saracens' 41-13 victory over Sale, while Harlequins trio Chris Robshaw, Mike Brown and Marcus Smith were hurt in a 31-28 defeat by Leicester.

Already in the treatment room heading into this weekend were Dylan Hartley, Joe Marler and Anthony Watson.

Vunipola will be causing Eddie Jones the greatest anxiety after damaging his right knee at Allianz Park in only the second match of his comeback from the shoulder surgery that forced him to miss the British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand.

"Billy has had some cruel luck with injuries so we're all praying and hoping that this isn't too serious. He's gone for a scan and we'll provide further comment once we've seen the results," Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall said.

A chaotic encounter at Twickenham Stoop was the setting for further question marks to be placed over members of Jones' 33-man squad which will gather in the penultimate training camp ahead of the autumn series against Argentina, Australia and Samoa.

Robshaw must observe return to play protocols after being knocked out and Brown has an ankle problem that saw him limp through the final minutes due to Harlequins having used all their replacements.

Quins' 18-year-old fly-half prospect Smith is less of a worry, however.

"Chris Robshaw was an immediate removal from the pitch. He's fine and was up and about in the changing room, so there are no issues there," Quins director of rugby John Kingston said.

"Marcus was precautionary because he was tight around the calf area and the last thing I wanted was for him to carry on and pull a muscle when we have enough players unavailable.

"Mike Brown's ankle is sore, that actually happened last week. He became a dad in the middle of the week and he was always a question mark because of the ankle injury he got at Wasps.

"He scrubbed up to play and he took another knock on it - he was in quite a lot of misery. He managed to stay on to make sure we weren't short of players."

Hartley is missing a second successive match because of a hand problem, Watson is sidelined by a knee injury and Marler is being treated for a rib ailment.

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