England dealt major blow before Six Nations clash with Wales as Manu Tuilagi suffers reoccurrence of the hamstring injury he picked up against South Africa last year… forcing Eddie Jones to change his plans
- Manu Tuilagi will not play in England’s Six Nations clash with Wales on Saturday
- Tuilagi has suffered a reoccurrence of the hamstring blow he picked up last year
- Eddie Jones has Joe Marchant and Elliot Daly as potential replacements
- Harry Randall was picked ahead of Ben Youngs at scrum-half for England
England’s plans were thrown into chaos on Thursday night when blockbuster centre Manu Tuilagi was ruled out of Saturday’s Wales showdown with injury.
Just hours after being selected for his first Six Nations start in two years, Tuilagi received scan results confirming that he suffered a low-grade hamstring tear in training.
It is the latest setback in the career of the injury-plagued 30-year-old, who tore the same muscle against South Africa in November.
England suffer a major blow before their Six Nations clash with Wales as Manu Tuilagi is injured
Tuilagi has suffered a reoccurrence of the hamstring injury he picked up against South Africa
Eddie Jones is still hopeful Tuilagi will recover to feature later in the competition, but the head coach last night drafted in Joe Marchant as cover for the game at Twickenham.
Jones will now make a last-minute decision on whether to start Marchant or Elliot Daly in the No 13 jersey – although neither offer Tuilagi’s raw power.
England had planned a high-tempo strategy around Tuilagi, having made the bold call to select rookie scrum-half Harry Randall ahead of veteran Ben Youngs.
Rather than enjoying a grandstand occasion when he breaks Jason Leonard’s 114-cap record, Youngs is primed for a role on the bench against Wales.
Eddie Jones also selected Harry Randall (above) at scrum-half before Saturday’s showdown
Jones, who has welcomed back skipper Courtney Lawes, revealed Youngs’ disappointment at being dropped on the day that he will become England’s most-capped player.
‘Everyone is disappointed at not starting,’ said Jones. ‘We have 35 players in camp and I have got to have 20 one-on-one conversations with guys who aren’t happy. Ben is one of them.
‘He is not happy about it. He wants to start. He wants to start every game as the other 34 blokes do, but they have to understand that for each game there’s a role to play and you have to accept that role.
‘That’s part of the deal of being in an international squad that you accept the role your coach gives to you and then you get on with it.’
Jones has revealed that Ben Youngs (above) is disappointed not to be starting the match
Jones has challenged Randall to keep the speed of England’s ruck-ball to under three seconds.
He added: ‘We want to put some pace in the game early. We feel like there will be opportunities against Wales early in the game and Harry each week has been in increasingly better form.
‘Harry is lighter, faster and will get to the ball quicker in the early part of the game and when the game is more of an even pace.
‘He’s sharp around the ruck, gives us that instinctiveness with his ability to take quick taps and run quickly. And then we have Ben Youngs to finish the game.
England boss Jones claims games like the Wales clash at Twickenham ‘go down to the wire’
‘These games go to the wire, it’s like a built-in narrative, and imagine having a half-back with 114 caps in the best form of his career coming on to manage that last 20 minutes.’
Having suffered an opening-round defeat in Scotland, England must win at Twickenham to keep their title ambitions alive.
‘We’ve played most of the last two years without Manu,’ said Jones, before the news of Tuilagi’s injury broke. ‘When he’s there we intend to use his power. If he’s not there we find another way to manufacture power.’