England flanker Brad Shields faces a race against time to be fit for the World Cup after being ruled out for up to six weeks with a foot injury.
The Wasps back row came home early last week from England’s warm-weather training camp in Treviso after sustaining ligament damage and assistant coach John Mitchell has now revealed that he could miss all four tournament warm-up games.
“Brad’s got a tear in the lower foot. It’s always a little bit niggly, but it’s four to six weeks for him,” explained Mitchell via a media conference call on Tuesday afternoon from Treviso where England are currently based.
“We will continue to be updated and appraise his recovery and see where he gets to. Eddie will decide… it’s important that Eddie (Jones) will decide on who is right and who is not right. Plenty of time to go.”
Shields’ unavailability means coach boss Jones has a tricky call to make when he names his 31-strong squad for the finals on August 12, the day after England open their warm-up series with a fixture versus Wales at Twickenham.
Shields will undergo assessment in England to understand the extent of the injury pic.twitter.com/IrZuxF8kjs
— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) July 25, 2019
New Zealand-born forward Shields has been replaced at the warm-weather camp by Harlequins’ Alex Dombrandt, a player Mitchell claims he has been impressed by.
“Alex has basically been with us right from the start when the (first training) squad was named. Again also he had time out, he is a young athlete… but yeah, he is progressing nicely. Every day he is getting a little bit better and is learning a lot. I have actually really enjoyed (him), he has been quite outstanding in the programme.”
Shields, Mako Vunipola, George Kruis and Jack Nowell are all now in various stages of rehab. “George is back in training this week, which has been really good for him,” added Mitchell, who couldn’t be exact in specifying when Kruis might play.
? RISING SONS: Episode 4
— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) July 30, 2019
“The medical team have done a great job on his progression. He is back in full off enthusiasm and looking great. And Mako is progressing nicely. We should see him back in at some point in August.”
Mitchell added the warm-weather camp in Italy is proving worthwhile for England, explaining that not only are they getting used the sort of humidity they will face in Japan, he also revealed what the forwards got up.
“It has been good. The guys are working really hard. It is certainly asking questions and greater demands on people’s workrate off the ball and the little things that are unseen when you are challenged by heat and fatigue. It is asking a lot off questions of people mentally and physically which is what we want.
“The heat isn’t too bad. It’s 36°C, 34°C, but it’s the variance in the humidity for those of you that have experienced any type of exercise in humidity.
“It takes a while to adapt and it varies from 10 to 15 per cent. We have had some humidity ranging between 75 to 90 here so it makes you sweat and it sits on you as well. The intake of fluid and electrolytes is critical every day.
“Italy were in yesterday and it was invaluable. It is always nice at some point in your preparation to train against an organised opposition that you are not familiar with on a day by day basis.
“It was really constructive. Very unemotional, which often can’t be the case when you have forwards up against forwards. But both countries got a lot out it.
“It was just purely unit training. There were rules around the contact constraints. There was certainly no bone-on-bone or live contact. It was purely units.”
WATCH: Part one of Operation Jaypan, the two-part RugbyPass documentary series on what the fans can expect at the Rugby World Cup
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