England assistant coach Richard Wigglesworth has provided an update on the team’s injury list. Wigglesworth is hopeful to see the return of Ellis Genge to the squad this weekend, as England take on Wales at Twickenham in the second round of the 2024 Six Nations.
The loose-head prop pulled out of England’s match against Italy in the pre-match warm-up, after aggitating a previous foot injury. Genge was picked amongst the replacements to take on the Azzurri and was replaced by Bath prop Beno Obano. Wigglesworth is hopeful to see Genge return to the pitch as England host Warren Gatland’s side on Saturday.
“Ellis took some part in training today and we are hopeful that he is available for the weekend. But we obviously got to get through the rest of this week.”
An update has also been provided on Marcus Smith, after the fly half was seen hobbling out of England’s training camp in Girona on crutches. Smith missed the opening match of the Six Nations due to the injured calf, with Wigglesworth not expecting the Harlequin to return any time soon.
“It looks like it’d be further back-end of the tournament, if we get him back. Yeah, it’s not, it won’t be in the next couple of weeks.”
“Marcus has an incredible attitude. He was gutted but we were gutted as well.We know he’s an international quality players. We are blessed in that position because we’ve got George Ford and Fin Smith, but that doesn’t distract from what a top player he is and the impact he potentially would have had.
“His attitude was ‘I’ll just come back better’, which is what he was doing for Harlequins before he came in. I’ve no doubt that if we see him later in the tournament or if it’s after that then he’ll come back in put his hand up like he did.
The last two England players currently on the road to recovery, are Leicester Tigers forward George Martin and Bath centre Ollie Lawrence. Wigglesworth provided the additional updates on the trajectory of their returns.
“George Martin is in this week to rehab with us, not available for the weekend. Ollie Lawrence potentially coming in, end of this week, maybe next week.”
NIGEL OWENS DREAM XV:
Fullback: Israel Folau (Australia), replaced by Leigh Halfpenny (Wales)
Owens said: “For me, it’s nip and tuck between Halfpenny and Folau, next to nothing to choose between them. Leigh is brilliant because under the high ball and with his kicking at goal under pressure. He may not always break the line when running but puts his body on the line in defence and is a top-notch match-winner.”
Winger: Stuart Hogg (Scotland)
Owens said: “How can you fail to be impressed when watching Hogg play. He’s so exciting as he burst into that line and, of course, was named Six Nations player of the tournament.
“I know he’s a full-back for Scotland, but he is so quick and direct he could easily play on the wing. He reminds me a bit of Shane Williams with some of the things he does.
“When you see who is on the other wing in my team, you’ll see how they would work brilliantly in tandem.”
Outside-centre: Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland)
Owens said: “Not only is he one of the greatest centres in the history of rugby union but he’s a fantastic man off the field as well. O’Driscoll has been a wonderful ambassador for the sport and a real leader. He always respected referees and set the right example for others to follow.
“A legend of the game who conducted himself superbly, on and off the pitch.”
Inside-centre: Ma’a Nonu (New Zealand), replaced by Owen Farrell (England)
Owens praised Farrell as a player on numerous occasions.
On one occasion he wrote: “I can only speak from my own experience of refereeing him and, when I did, he was an excellent captain to deal with.
“I have a huge amount of respect for him as a player and a person. He always knew where the line was with me.
“I would say to him that he could always come and talk to me as long as it was at the right time and in the right tone and he always did that.”
Winger: Shane Williams (Wales)
Owens said: “When people ask me who is the best player I have refereed it’s pretty much an impossible task to pick one because I’ve been lucky enough to take charge of so many greats.
“But if I’m pushed, I would pick Shane for what he achieved after coming from football at 17 or 18 years of age.
“He was in the mould of Gerald Davies in how he left defenders gasping for air as he beat them with those dazzling sidesteps. Nobody would fancy defending against a back three of Shane, Hogg and Folau, I can tell you that.”