Flanker Chris Robshaw and full-back Mike Brown are doubtful for England's Six Nations opener with Italy as England’s injury woes continue to escalate with Henry Slade and Kyle Sinckler already on the sidelines.
Back row Robshaw, 31, has a back injury, while his Harlequins team-mate fullback Brown, 32, is being troubled by blurred vision, forcing head coach Eddie Jones to rate the duo as “borderline” for their match against Italy on February 4.
“Chris Robshaw would win any sort of water Olympics at the moment. He’s unbelievable in the pool,” Jones said at the Six Nations launch in London.
“He did a water aerobics class with a bunch of Portuguese women yesterday (Tuesday). Apparently, he was the best in the class.
“If we play Italy in the pool he’d be all right, but if we’re playing rugby then he’d be borderline to get there.
“Mike Brown is starting to do some light skills today (Wednesday) and we’d be hopeful that by the middle of next week he’d be all right to train. He’s also borderline for Italy.”
On Tuesday, Harlequins, and England's second choice tighthead prop Kyle Sinckler, withdrew through injury and was replaced by Bath's Henry Thomas. Sinckler might miss the entire tournament with his hamstring problem.
“Kyle Sinckler was being examined again this morning, but the likelihood is that he has a hamstring injury of significance and will probably be out for six to seven weeks,” Jones said.
Jones also informed that Henry Slade will miss at least the first half of the Six Nations due to his shoulder issue but could have Jack Nowell back from his ankle complaint in time to face Wales on February 10.
“You just have these runs. I don’t think it’s anything significant. You have ups and downs in the game and at this particular time there are a number of injuries,” he said.
“For the Lions players you can understand that the injury risk is high because of the lack of a proper pre-season that they have, but obviously they’re not all Lions players.”
England's injury list
Forwards: Tom Curry, Charlie Ewels, Ellis Genge, Nathan Hughes, Matt Mullan, Beno Obano, Kyle Sinckler, Will Spencer, Chris Robshaw, Billy Vunipola.
Backs: Mike Brown, Elliot Daly, Piers Francis, Jack Nowell, Semesa Rokoduguni, Henry Slade. (Ben Te'o is returning to fitness with England but has not played since October)