Blow for Eddie Jones as England prop Mako Vunipola ruled out of Six Nations
Vunipola sidelined for 10 weeks with ankle injury as England chase Grand Slam
England prop Mako Vunipola has been ruled out of the remainder of the Six Nations with an ankle ligament injury.
The Rugby Football Union confirmed last night that Vunipola picked up the injury during England’s 44-8 victory over France on Sunday and is expected to be out action for 10 weeks.
“It is obviously very disappointing to lose Mako at this stage as he is an important player for us but it does provide an opportunity for the team to grow,” England coach Eddie Jones said.
Vunipola, capped 53 times by England, played a pivotal role in England’s 32-20 win over Ireland in Dublin, claiming the man of the match award.
Meanwhile, Wales No 8 Taulupe Faletau needs more surgery on his broken arm, his English Premiership club Bath said.
It was hoped Faletau would return for the final two Six Nations matches against Scotland and Ireland but Warren Gatland must complete the tournament without the 76-cap international.
“Following further expert opinion, Bath Rugby can confirm that Taulupe Faletau will require further surgery on his right arm,” said a statement from the club.
“We’re gutted for Taulupe, but this is the best course of action for him moving forwards as a player,” Bath director of rugby Todd Blackadder said.
“We will know more in terms of time frames following the surgery, but we’re looking forward to welcoming him back into the squad.”
The 28-year-old Tonga-born forward suffered the injury in January’s European Champions Cup pool victory over Wasps on his return from a 13-week absence which saw him miss the November Tests.
The British & Irish Lion last played for Wales against France in the Six Nations in March 2018.
Some better news for Gatland was that Leigh Halfpenny will return to training with Wales on Wednesday as they prepare for their potential title-decider with England at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium on February 23.
Scarlets fullback Halfpenny has not played since suffering a head injury against Australia during the November internationals. But he was named in Warren Gatland’s initial 39-man national squad for the Six Nations last month.
Halfpenny has scored more than 700 points in 80 appearances for Wales, and he has played in three Lions tours.
Wales have won their first two games against France and Italy, and take on England, who are also unbeaten, with both teams chasing a Grand Slam.
Updated: February 12, 2019 08:14 PM