In Brief

England rugby injury crisis: Billy Vunipola ruled out of autumn internationals

Coach Eddie Jones has a selection headache at No.8 after the Saracens star breaks his arm

England rugby union head coach Eddie Jones has been dealt a major blow after Billy Vunipola was ruled out of the autumn internationals.

The Saracens No.8 requires surgery after breaking his left arm and will be out of action for up to 12 weeks. This means the 25-year-old will miss the matches against South Africa, New Zealand, Japan and Australia at Twickenham in November.

Meanwhile, Vunipola’s brother Mako is an injury doubt, as is Nick Isiekwke. Mako Vunipola, the Saracens prop, has a calf strain while forward Isiekwe, the Saracens forward, has sprained his ankle.

Sky Sports pundit Stuart Barnes said that Billy Vunipola’s injury was the “single biggest blow that England could have suffered ahead of the autumn internationals. 

“If you watched England in the summer or in the Six Nations, without Billy Vunipola they had problems winning the gain line,” he said. “Their first two matches in November are against the Springboks and the All Blacks when the gain line will be.. a key battle.”

Crisis at No.8

England coach Jones seems to have a crisis brewing in the No.8 position, with Vunipola and Sam Simmonds out injured and Nathan Hughes likely to be suspended.

One option to solve the crisis could be a recall for Gloucester’s Ben Morgan. The BBC reports that the 29-year-old would be ready to return to international rugby should Jones need him.

Morgan, who has won 31 caps but hasn’t played for England since 2015, said: “I’m enjoying my rugby, and if it leads to anything else then fantastic.”

Player injuries

According to The Daily Telegraph, England’s list of “walking wounded” is now up to 16 players. All of these players could be unavailable when Jones names his squad for the autumn internationals on Thursday.

Jones will also be without prop Joe Marler who announced his retirement from international rugby in September.

England’s autumn international fixtures

England vs. South Africa
  • When: Saturday 3 November 
  • Where: Twickenham, London 
  • Kick-off time: 3pm, live on Sky Sports
England vs. New Zealand
  • When: Saturday 10 November 
  • Where: Twickenham, London 
  • Kick-off time: 3pm, live on Sky Sports
England vs. Japan
  • When: Saturday 17 November 
  • Where: Twickenham, London 
  • Kick-off time: 3pm, live on Sky Sports
England vs. Australia
  • When: Saturday 24 November 
  • Where: Twickenham, London 
  • Kick-off time: 3pm, live on Sky Sports

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