England boss Eddie Jones has been forced to make a further alteration to his Guinness Six Nations squad, calling up Jack Willis from his twelve-strong shadow squad to replace Sam Underhill in the 28-strong squad announced for the tournament last Friday.
Jones lost two of original 28 on Monday when it emerged that Joe Marler (personal reasons) and Joe Launchbury (leg injury) had pulled out and would be respectively replaced by Tom West and Charlie Ewels.
Now a third forward will be absent when the squad assembles this Wednesday at St George’s Park, openside Underhill suffering a hip injury and making way for Willis who was a controversial omission last week from the slimmed-down squad initially announced by Jones, who had agreed with the RFU to the reduced size of 28 to limit movement of players in and out of the squad
An RFU statement on the latest squad change read: “Sam Underhill has withdrawn from the England squad for the Guinness Six Nations with a hip injury. Wasps’ Jack Willis has been called up to Eddie Jones’ side for the tournament.
“The squad will meet at St George’s Park on Wednesday as they begin preparations for the tournament. England’s first game is against Scotland at Twickenham Stadium on Saturday, February 6. Alec Hepburn, Lewis Ludlam and David Ribbans have been added to the shadow squad.”
"It’s a tough one not being able to give your all when you are player of Joe Marler’s calibre"
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) January 26, 2021
Bath director of rugby Stuart Hooper later confirmed Underhill will be back before the end of the Six Nations. “It’s disappointing for him but the outlook is pretty positive. We’re talking weeks more than anything else,” he said. “He picked it up against Wasps earlier this month and it probably has been a bit of a niggle for him. He was assessed this morning [Tuesday] by the England medics and the decision was made.
“He has been in great form and has delivered some top performances. We know the destructive nature of Sam’s game and the ability he’s got on both sides of the ball now, with carrying and defence. Like everybody else, he has been disjointed and hasn’t had the opportunity to go week to week, which gets him in a really good groove. This injury is a setback but he’ll come back to us and get the very best treatment.”
'We want to be a team that plays at a level that the other teams can't compete against'
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) January 23, 2021
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