Tuesday 23 October 2018

Fracture to rule Itoje out of Six Nations opener

Saracens star Maro Itoje is a doubt for the start of England’s Six Nations campaign
Saracens star Maro Itoje is a doubt for the start of England’s Six Nations campaign

Gavin Mairs

Maro Itoje is a doubt for the start of England's Six Nations campaign after Saracens confirmed the Lions lock fractured his jaw in the defeat by Harlequins on Sunday - potentially opening the door for a return to Eddie Jones's squad for the Wasps forward James Haskell.

Itoje is understood to have undergone an operation on his jaw after scans revealed he fractured it in a collision with England team-mate and Harlequins full-back Mike Brown.

Itoje will see a second specialist tomorrow after the swelling has eased to determine the length of his rehabilitation. It is thought the fracture may not be too serious but, even so, the 23-year-old could be up against it to prove his fitness for England's opener against Italy in Rome on February 4.

Anthony Watson, Itoje's England team-mate, was ruled out for two months and missed the entire autumn Test campaign in 2016, when he sustained a similar injury during a training camp in Brighton.

England are due to travel to Portugal for warm-weather training in mid-January and, if Itoje is unable to take part, he will struggle to be considered for selection for the Italy game.

The injury to Itoje, who was a nominee for World Rugby player of the year in Monte Carlo last week, also comes as a massive blow to Saracens, who have dropped to third place in the Premiership after three successive league defeats.

Mark McCall's side, who are also without England No 8 Billy Vunipola, who has been sidelined since September with a knee injury, face back-to-back Champions Cup matches against French powerhouse Clermont Auvergne in the next two weekends. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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