Eng­land’s Underhill suf­fers more in­jury agony

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Rugby Union - By Char­lie Mor­gan

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

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