After being named in the 31-man squad this week for Italy’s visit to Twickenham on Saturday, Maro Itoje has limped out of training with England.
The second-row has missed England’s last two matches this Six Nations after injuring his knee against Ireland in the opening round. The initials fear were that the Saracen would miss the entire Championship, but he was a major boost to England by recovering from injury so quickly.
With Courtney Lawes now out for the rest of the tournament, Eddie Jones would have been relieved to see Itoje return, despite still having a wealth of locks at his disposal.
However, in light of this latest injury news, England fans have taken to Twitter to criticise the the way that the 24-year-old has been rushed back so quickly by England. With respect to Italy, this is the one match where a coach can afford to rest some players, so the need to rush the British and Irish Lion back so soon was a risk not worth taken to many fans.
This is what they have said:
No surprise Yoda has broken him Rushed him back in #stopfloggingtheplayers
— Graham Holliday (@downsview117) March 5, 2019
Did England really need to rush Itoje back for Italy? Well doesn’t matter now he’s limped out of training ?
— Danny Till (@dannyjt10) March 5, 2019
— Tony Jolliffe (@tjjodmill117) March 5, 2019
Why is Eddie Jones risking Itoje against Italy for?? Rest him and keep him fresh would have been a far better idea.
— Fatavesi (@Fatavesi) March 5, 2019
Rushed back too soon for me. Italy isn’t going to be a first team squad and they didn’t need him back desperately.
— Robert Rees (@Rreesrugby) March 5, 2019
Some fans have also vented their spleen at Jones for rushing Itoje back too quickly. While the coach has been accused of not taking into account player welfare, that is probably untrue as he will be acutely aware of how vital it is to have Itoje fit come the end of the year at the World Cup. That will be Jones’ priority, and this Six Nations will not be at the forefront of his mind, particularly with two relatively easy games to come compared with what they have faced.
However, this would not be the first time that Jones’ training methods have been called into question. The coach demands a lot from his players and is a tough taskmaster in training, and while that has clearly produced results on the pitch, some have criticised him in the past for pushing his players too much; the training camps with Georgia and judo sessions being an example of that.
While all England fans will hope that this scare is nothing to worry about, it is a suggestion that Itoje may have been pushed back into action sooner than he should have been.
As good as Itoje is, England are pretty well off for locks, this is reckless from Jones et al
— Adam Brown (@AdBrown85) March 5, 2019
What was he doing there, the blazers and Eddie Jones have no interest in player welfare.
— Drew (@d_r_ew) March 5, 2019
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