Stuart Lancaster, the England head coach, will not know the full extent of the injury absentees in his squad for a while yet: Luther Burrell, the Northampton centre, and Joe Marler, the Harlequins prop, are the latest players to suffer orthopaedic problems, with the Wasps flanker James Haskell still recovering from a viral infection and unlikely to train this week. As preparation goes for an important Test against the world champions from New Zealand in 12 days, it is far from ideal.
Last night, Lancaster sent for reinforcements: nine of them, rather than the seven he had initially planned to summon. In doing so, he ensured there would be enough men in camp to train meaningfully over the coming days while the various injuries are diagnosed properly and the players involved in yesterday’s Wasps-Harlequins game recover from their toils.
The Northampton full-back Ben Foden, the Bath wing Anthony Watson, the Exeter midfielder Henry Slade and the Saracens scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth were called in to flesh things out behind the scrum. As for the forwards, two Exeter back-rowers, the uncapped blind-side flanker Dave Ewers and the former Leicester No 8 Thomas Waldrom were among those added, along with two props – Alex Waller of Northampton, Henry Thomas of Bath – and the Gloucester open-side specialist Matt Kvesic.
Another breakaway forward, Will Fraser of Saracens, was under consideration for a place in the expanded training party of 42, but he suffered a nasty smack on the head during his club’s European Champions Cup defeat by Munster last Friday and was ruled out under concussion protocols.
Burrell is the man giving most cause for concern, having injured a hand at the weekend. “Luther will be assessed by a specialist over the next 48 hours,” Lancaster said.Reuse content