England’s Owen Farrell could miss start of Six Nations after ankle surgery

Saracens player ruled out for between 10 and 12 weeks after suffering injury against Australia

Manu Tuilagi is back in the 12 jersey after Owen Farrell suffered an ankle injury. Photograph:  Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Manu Tuilagi is back in the 12 jersey after Owen Farrell suffered an ankle injury. Photograph: Dan Mullan/Getty Images

 

England captain Owen Farrell is a doubt for the start of the Six Nations after Saracens revealed that he faces up to three months out because of ankle surgery.

Farrell has been given a timeline of between 10 to 12 weeks for his recovery, meaning he could miss the opener against Scotland on February 5th and possibly the round two trip to Rome eight days later due to a lack of match fitness.

The Saracens playmaker hobbled off late on in last Saturday’s rout of Australia with the injury that rules him out of the climax to the autumn against South Africa.

It continues an unfortunate campaign for the 30-year-old after he was forced to self-isolate for the opener against Tonga, only for his Covid sample to belatedly be confirmed as a false-positive.

In his absence, Courtney Lawes led England against the Islanders and he will also be at the helm for the Springboks’ visit to Twickenham on Saturday.

Marcus Smith is currently seen as first-choice outhalf and should Farrell’s recovery be delayed, Eddie Jones could recall the out-of-favour George Ford as cover.

The outlook on Jamie George’s knee damage is less severe with the Saracens hooker expected to be out for eight to 10 weeks, potentially making him available for the Murrayfield showdown.

George fought his way back into England’s squad after initially being left out by Jones and impressed against Tonga and Australia until injury struck.

Rookie Jamie Blamire will win his fifth cap on Saturday to plug the gap, but Luke Cowan-Dickie is due to return from an ankle issue next month and will be favourite to fill the No 2 jersey against Scotland.

Loosehead prop Bevan Rodd has also been named in the England frontrow, winning his second cap.

Joe Marler leaves self-isolation on Friday and so is confined to a bench role for the rematch of the 2019 World Cup final.

Jones has thrown a curveball on the right wing where outside centre Joe Marchant is picked ahead of specialist Adam Radwan and Max Malins, who has been in free-scoring form for Saracens this season.

Marchant was left out of the original squad for the autumn but a campaign-ending knee injury sustained by Anthony Watson offered a reprieve that culminates in an opportunity against the world champions.

In Farrell's absence, Manu Tuilagi returns to centre where he will partner Henry Slade.

“This is our biggest game of the season and the final game of the autumn campaign and we want to finish with a bang,” Jones said. “We’ve been really pleased with the preparation this week and how the team has continued to develop over the past month.

“Now we want to put on our best performance this autumn in front of a capacity 82,000 crowd at Twickenham.”

ENGLAND: Freddie Steward; Joe Marchant, Henry Slade, Manu Tuilagi,. Jonny May; Marcus Smith, Ben Youngs; Bevan Rodd, Jamie Blamire, Kyle Sinckler; Maro Itoje, Jonny Hill; Courtney Lawes (capt), Sam Underhill, Tom Curry.

Replacements: Nic Dolly, Joe Marler, Will Stuart, Charlie Ewels, Sam Simmonds, Alex Dombrandt, Raffi Quirke, Max Malins.

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