Ben Youngs has been ruled out of the rest of the Six Nations after suffering a serious knee injury in Sunday’s victory over Italy, with Eddie Jones calling up Saracens’ Richard Wigglesworth ahead of this England's clash with Wales this Saturday
The 28-year-old collapsed under pressure from Italy tighthead prop Simone Ferrari in the 10th minute of Sunday’s 46-15 victory at the Stadio Olimpico, and departed the field with his left leg in a full brace on the back of a cart. Jones confirmed the injury did not look good, and a scan on Monday revealed that the player has ruptured his medial collateral ligament [MCL].
Youngs "is likely to be out for four months," England confirmed, and will undergo further assessment later this week.
The injury robs England of their 74-cap first-choice scrum-half, although in Danny Care, Jones is able to call on a vastly experienced replacement who made his 77th Test appearance on Sunday when he came on for his stricken teammate.
Wigglesworth also adds plenty of experience to the squad, as despite his 27 international caps, the 34-year-old has made more than 300 Premiership appearances for Sale Sharks and current club Saracens, although he has not featured in the Test team under Eddie Jones and has not been seen in the white of England since the non-Test match against the Barbarians last summer, when he came on as a replacement.
With Care set to win just his seventh start under Jones, the scrum-half is looking forward to reclaiming the starting jersey – although admits he is “gutted” by the way that it has come about.
“You never want to see a bad injury like that and I was gutted to see Ben in so much pain,” Care said after the bonus-point victory at the Stadio Olimpico. “First thing first, he's a good mate as well as a competitor for the shirt. He's in pain and all our thoughts are with him.
“It would be great to get into the number nine shirt for the Wales game having had 70 minutes under my belt which is great because I love being out there with the boys. Hopefully we can hit the ground running from where we left off against Italy.”
Care also had the immediate support of his teammates, with George Ford quick to praise his talents as well as those of Youngs. Much was made ahead of the Six Nations about England’s strength in depth, and that just goes to show how good the reserves are for Jones to delve into as a 77-cap player replaces a 71-cap player and a two-time European Champions Cup winner in Wigglesworth is added to the squad.
“They are two great nines, both attack minded,” said fly-half Ford. As a 10 it is brilliant to play with them both. They want to get some good speed of ball and cause defences some problems but also good game managers, good kicking games. It is pretty seamless to be honest.”
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