Chris Ashton has been ruled out of the next round of the Six Nations, with the only two unbeaten teams in the competition, England and Wales, meeting at the Principality stadium on Saturday. Ashton has apparently suffered a minor strain to his calf muscle that will keep him out for a couple of weeks however he’s expected to be available for selection for the penultimate round of matches.

With the currently unstoppable and undroppable Jonny May already occupying one wing, the hard working Jack Nowell is likely to slot straight back into the starting lineup on the other.  This leaves the potential for England to bring off the bench their very own answer to George North – Bath’s Joe Cokanasiga.

While Ashton grabs more headlines, his absence will not be felt as much as that of Mako Vunipola’s. The prop suffered ankle ligament damage playing against France and is expected to be out of action for 10 weeks. Replacing Mako is much more challenging with England’s options in the front row less convincing than the backs. The current squad members challenged with filling Mako’s boots are the talented but inexperienced duo of Ben Moon (Exeter Chiefs) and Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers).

Wales have their own injury woes after a setback to Leigh Halfpenny’s return from concussion. He hasn’t played since November and was not involved for Scarlets over the weekend. Liam Williams is currently doing an admirable job at fullback though and it’s arguably Williams’ exceptional points kicking that Wales are missing.

Wales were already without number 8 Taulupe Faletau after he broke his arm in January when returning from having broken his arm in October 2018… He will no doubt take comfort from his cousin Billy Vuniploa who broke his arm 3 times in 2018 but has been enjoying a fine start to the Six Nations.

Written by Karl Potter