England lock Maro Itoje out of Wales showdown in Cardiff
Leigh Halfpenny and Dan Biggar both training with Wales ahead of game
England secondrow Maro Itoje has been ruled out of the Six Nations game against Wales in Cardiff on Saturday. Photograph: Warren Little/Getty Images
Itoje sustained the injury in the opening weekend victory over Ireland and missed the rout of France a week later amid a prognosis that the Saracens lock would return for the later rounds of the Championship.
However, it was suggested on Monday that he could recover in time for the title showdown at the Principality Stadium despite not being named in England’s 33-man training squad for the game
That unlikely prospect has vanished after forwards coach Steve Borthwick definitely ruled him out of contention.
“Maro is continuing his rehabilitation on a daily basis. He will not be available for Saturday’s game,” Borthwick said.
“He’s going well, just not quite well enough for this weekend. At the moment he’s going through his running progressions and that’s being developed on a daily basis.”
Scarlets fullback Halfpenny has not played since suffering concussion when Wales beat Australia on November 10th.
Outhalf Biggar, meanwhile, went off with his knee heavily strapped during Northampton’s Premiership victory over Sale Sharks three days ago.
Wales released Halfpenny back to the Scarlets for last weekend’s Pro 14 appointment with Benetton, but he was not included in their matchday 23.
Wales assistant coach Robin McBryde said: “They are training with us, so hopefully they will be fit enough for selection.
“Leigh was released, but didn’t play, last week. We just felt that he needed a little bit more contact, so that is what he is going to have. We will measure both of them as the week goes on.
“With Leigh, it is an individual case, and those discussions would take place with the medical team, the coaches and Leigh himself.
“There is no way that we would put somebody in a position that he is not comfortable with. Those discussions will take place during the week.”
Both Wales and England are unbeaten after two rounds of the championship, with Saturday’s clash being billed by many as a title eliminator.
Wales are also on an 11-match undefeated run, with one more victory required to break their all-time record set between 1907 and 1910.
McBryde added: “It’s a big game. England are riding high on the back of two very good performances.
“We’ve had the results, but maybe not the performances, so we have got a bit of work ahead of us.
“They have started really strongly, so we have got to be able to weather the storm.
“Obviously, they have got a big kicking game that we have got to contend with, but we have got to focus on ourselves.
“It is a big test, and we are going to have to be at our best.”