England’s Underhill suffers more injury agony
Sam Underhill’s involvement in the Six Nations is in major doubt after he was ruled out for up to three months following ankle surgery.
The Bath back-rower, who enjoyed his breakthrough with England at the end of 2018, suffered the injury during his club’s 23-16 win over Leicester on Dec 30.
Bath confirmed he had undergone an operation and was expected to play again in March, missing England’s first three games.
A toe injury curtailed the 22-yearold’s 2018 Six Nations after three replacement appearances against Italy, Wales and Scotland. He was then ruled out of last summer’s tour of South Africa. The setback will be all the more frustrating for head coach Eddie Jones given Underhill’s efforts in November, when the openside’s destructive tackling and dominant carrying underpinned England’s performance in a narrow 16-15 loss to New Zealand.
Jones, though, will have been heartened by the return of Tom Curry. The 20-year-old, five-cap specialist openside, already an effective scavenger around the breakdown, was a star of Sale’s 24-18 Premiership victory over Saracens last Friday.
Meanwhile, Billy Vunipola is poised for a second consecutive start at the base of Saracens’ scrum against Lyon tomorrow, and joining him is elder brother Mako and hooker Jamie George. Maro Itoje and George Kruis reunite in the Saracens second row.
Bath’s England duo, Jonathan Joseph and Joe Cokanasiga, are expected back in first-team action in mid-january, while Jack Nowell returns at full-back for Exeter against Castres.
Ankle surgery: Flanker Sam Underhill will be out for up to three months