Marland Yarde is hurting – if a ruptured hip tendon is as excruciating as it sounds, the London Irish back must be in agony – but on balance, the real pain is being felt in England’s inner sanctum. The news that Yarde will be out of commission for at least three months leaves Stuart Lancaster and the rest of the red rose coaching team without their first-choice left wing for the whole of the Six Nations, which begins in February.
Yarde is still in the foothills of his international career, having played one Test against Argentina in the summer and another against the Wallabies at Twickenham earlier this month, but Lancaster has identified him as first-choice material for the home World Cup in 2015. Unfortunately, the 21-year-old’s chances of getting some early tournament experience under his belt were wrecked when he suffered the injury on Premiership duty at Leicester last weekend. He requires surgery and is unlikely to play again before mid-March.
He therefore joins Manu Tuilagi, the senior outside centre in the country, and Alex Corbisiero, the main man at loose-head prop, on the Six Nations “no go” list. With the Saracens centre Brad Barritt and two of Leicester’s back-five forwards, the lock Geoff Parling and the flanker Tom Croft, also among the long-term injured, it was not been a good few weeks for Lancaster on the personnel front.
Ben Foden of Northampton, currently struggling with injury himself, will come under close consideration for the No 11 role when England next take the field, against France in Paris on 1 February. Lancaster may, however, accelerate moves to draft the young Bath full-back Anthony Watson in the senior squad. The head coach sees Watson as a potential wing at the top level.