Player welfare protocol has meant that a fit Lewis Ludlam is unavailable to England this Saturday to help ease their back row injury situation.
Eddie Jones was so short of resources for last Saturday’s second World Cup warm-up match that he was forced to select hooker Jack Singleton as a reserve back row forward for the loss in Cardiff to Wales.
Mark Wilson (rib complaint), Tom Curry (shoulder) and Sam Underhill (ankle) have been injury concerns for England throughout this month, with Curry – who got injured for his troubles in the first Wales match – the only one of the trio to make any Test appearance so far this season.
That casualty list helped catapult Ludlam up the pecking order, making his debut on August 11, earning World Cup squad selection the following day and then getting a second consecutive start against the Welsh last Saturday.
However, England are not able to call on the 23-year-old to face Ireland at Twickenham. He is said to be undergoing a week’s active rest as the standard player contract in place for every Premiership Rugby player allows for a five-week break. He is finishing this allowance out, but it has left Jones sweating on the availability of his rehabilitating back rowers.
Fit and ready for England selection, Mako Vunipola can now reflect with a smile on how he coped with his serious injury https://t.co/HVLVIkYRAN
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) August 21, 2019
“Those guys trained, trained well, and we will continue to monitor them as training progresses,” said forwards coach Steve Borthwick at a media conference after all three had trained at Pennyhill Park on Wednesday. “We have got tonight and tomorrow morning (Thursday) as well before naming the team.”
England will want all three available to take on Ireland to offset any need to pitch Billy Vunipola into a third Test in as many weeks.
Maro Itoje and Courtney Lawes are also further options to slot into the back row should either lock be required to step out to a loose forward role.
Mako Vunipola is expected to feature after recovering from hamstring surgery, with Borthwick admitting the British and Irish Lions prop offers England a significant boost.
WATCH: Jonny May and George Ford set the scene ahead of England’s World Cup warm-up match against Ireland
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