In the space of just weeks England’s injury list for the Six Nations has turned from fair to dismal at exactly the wrong time. The latest blow came as both Saracens fly half Owen Farrell (knee) and Bath centre Kyle Eastmond (shoulder) were both injured in European Champions Cup games over the last weekend. Although it had been hoped Farrell might return to play some part later in the competition, it was recently confirmed he would be out for the duration.
These injuries make it a quartet of England players to be ruled out of all or part of the Six Nations in days; after Geoff Parling and Tom Wood were both ruled out – they will be replaced in the England squad by Tom Croft and the uncapped Christian Day.
Also out are Saracens centre Brad Barritt (knee), leaving Jonathan Joseph and Billy Twelvetrees as the England squads only 2 fit centres. Fortunately Luther Burrell, of Saints, who had been a concern, is due to return to training on Friday.
Of course, all this comes on top of the loss of Number 8 Billy Morgan, who broke a leg at the beginning of the month while in action for Gloucester and will certainly play no part in the tournament. Joe Launchbury’s neck injury, sustained in December, will also keep him out of contention. However long term absentee Manu Tuilagi could feature in the latter stages all being well.
Other teams will have to adjust to injury problems, but England can legitimately claim to have ridden the worst of luck to the very doorstep of the Six Nations – which kicks off next Friday as Wales host England at the Millennium Stadium.
Ireland, who are joint favourites to win outright with England, at 7/4) are currently experiencing a severe run on half-backs. Jonathan Sexton’s concussion will only rule him out of one game (the opener vs Italy) but partner in crime Colin Murray is suffering from a persistent neck injury. To add to those woes; presumptive replacement Eoin Reddan strained medial knee ligaments in action for Leinster. Scotland also lose personnel to injury as David Denton and Sean Maitland will miss the start of the campaign due to calf and shoulder injuries respectively.
Anyone who wagered on England for the tournament may feel short changed by fate presently; but there’s no need to panic yet! The Six Nations will be a busy period for bookies, who will undoubtedly release new player offers and other enticements to customers. The bookies.com website lists a variety of free bet offers; and has a free odds checker to ensure you get the best value for your bet!