The days are getting shorter, the leaves are falling off the trees and the adverts on TV are starting to get a lot more sentimental. For most people this means that Christmas is approaching but for rugby fans it’s the coming of perhaps the most exciting event of the calendar – the autumn internationals.
To the disappointment of many viewers, an in form England side won’t be able to test the resolve of a seemingly unstoppable All Blacks side that has moved on from the Carter/McCaw/Nonu era without the hangover that was feared. This is actually very lucky for England though as despite being second in the world their team has been devastated with injuries so would not be able to put up the fight that they’re capable of. It is not just England that have a growing injury list, here is a starting XV of some of the worlds best players that unfortunately won’t be on our TV screens for at least the start of November internationals.
After taking advantage of Joe Marler’s post world cup exodus Vunipola has vastly improved and is having a great season so far at Saracens. There would have been serious competition of who would get the starting loose-head shirt but due to a hip injury it looks like Mako is out of the running.
Luke Cowan Dickie
Luckily for England they have serious depth at hooker and it would have been a fight for places anyway but it is likely Cowan Dickie would have featured in some way during the series. If it weren’t for the ligament damage in his ankle he’d probably be showing some of his attacking talent on the world stage.
The south African born Scotsman has quickly become one of the most feared tight-heads in the northern hemisphere in the past few seasons and is a shoe in to start for the lions in 2017. Hopefully currently being sidelined won’t affect his form too much and he’ll be ready to face the All Blacks next summer.
England’s wonderkid and possibly one of the best players in the world right now will not be able to continue his progress during the autumn internationals due to a fractured hand. His loss will certainly be felt by England, especially at the breakdown.
A very similar player to Itoje, offering versatility, youth and brilliant game awareness from both the second row and backrow. Ireland will have to deal with the loss of Henderson for at least the first part of the Series.
One of wales’ most influential players for the past number of seasons. Faletau will leave a big gap in the Welsh backrow after getting injured in his first match at Bath. His game-changing ability will definitely be missed.
England are having an injury crisis in the backrow and the most missed of all has to be Haskell. After excelling under Eddie Jones and becoming one of the key players in a tough England pack the Red Rose’s defense will definitely not have as much of an edge to it.
After suffering reoccurring knee issues the Springbok number 8 will be missing the November internationals leaving a crucial gap in the starting XV. Warren Whiteley has done a great job in filling that gap but Vermeulen remains on of the worlds best in his position.
Despite being played on the wing lately by South Africa his primary position still remains scrumhalf and with the acceleration and pace of a wing Hougaard is fantastic around the fringes of a breakdown.
Giteau had an unfortunate end to an incredible career. Despite missing the best of four years of international rugby whilst playing at Toulon he came back to play for Australia in the 2015 world cup and showed he is still one of the worlds best. If Giteau didn’t break his ankle in the rugby championship he’d likely still be playing for Australia.
Despite not having the pace that you’d expect from an international winger Nowell is an incredibly well rounded player, mixing tenacity in defense with smart running lines in attack. A very dependable player that England will wish wasn’t injured.
Sonny Bill Williams
New Zealand suffered a poor 2016 Olympics for their 7’s team, not least of their woes was SBW rupturing his Achilles tendon. If not for this injury Sonny Bill would probably have been helping the All Blacks transition into the new, youthful team that they are.
He has had his career hampered by injuries but Tuilagi undeniably has the skill and physicality to be one of the best in his position. At only 25, Tuilagi still has the chance to fulfill his potential, the 2017 Lions tour will be a great opportunity to show he has what it takes.
One of the shining lights of England’s dismal 2015 world cup campaign and has remained a deadly finisher ever since. With a very good turn of pace and a nose for the finish line Watson will leave big shoes to fill after breaking his jaw during England’s training camp in last month.
Nehe Milner Skudder
After being a revelation for the Hurricanes and All Blacks last year manyfans will be disappointed that they won’t see Milner Skudder’s attacking flair this November due to his shoulder injury. Equally adept at wing and fullback it’s likely that Milner Skudder will be a mainstay in the All Blacks side.