Marcus Smith has dealt England a significant injury blow just days before the Six Nations kick-off, as he exited training with a limp and was later spotted using crutches.
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The 24-year-old Harlequins fly-half is set to undergo a crucial scan on Monday night to assess the extent of his leg injury, casting doubt on his availability for Saturday’s opener against Italy in Rome.
Head coach Steve Borthwick, grappling with selection challenges in the absence of key players, now faces added uncertainty over the crucial fly-half position.
With Owen Farrell opting out of the tournament ahead of his move to Racing 92, the absence of Marcus Smith would be a considerable setback for England’s plans.
During the World Cup, Smith took on the role of a makeshift full-back in the absence of Farrell. However, with Farrell now unavailable for the Six Nations, Smith had hoped to claim the No. 10 jersey.
“I have heard nothing on what he has done,” Richard Wigglesworth, the England attack coach, said.
“Hopefully very precautionary, the medical staff here are generally like that. I have not been updated on that, since I have been back but if he is not [fit] it would definitely be a blow for us.
“It wasn’t a big incident, that’s why I was hoping it was nothing much.
“He was just jogging, it was never extensive but he pulled up and happened to be right next to a physio when he did it by the sideline, so they just walked off after that. I saw him walk off but when you mentioned crutches, I wasn’t aware of that.”
The situation compounds Borthwick’s challenges as the majority of his World Cup backline is already unavailable.
Farrell’s decision to step away, along with injuries to Manu Tuilagi and Ollie Lawrence, and the unavailability of Joe Marchant and Henry Arundell in France, further compounds the coach’s woes.
To add to the complications, Jonny May has retired, leaving England with a depleted and reshuffled backline as they prepare for the tournament in Girona.
“The Terminator” – 5 biggest and strongest rugby players in the 2023 Six Nations!
When these players get the ball, the spectators hold their breath. Capable of smashing their way through the toughest of defenders, these players are built for contact and are not afraid of a big collision.
With the 2023 Guinness Six Nations kicking off this weekend, here are the five most powerful Six Nations players to watch.
Andrew Porter – Ireland
With a reported squat personal best of a staggering 350 kg, Andrew Porter’s strength resembles an Olympic standard. Porter smashes the 275kg requirements for an elite-level squat for his size, demonstrating how truly powerful he is for a professional athlete.
The Leinster prop is a fearsome scrummager, capable of winning the ball against the run of play through the sheer force of his driving. Ireland’s resident powerhouse lines up in a frightening front row, along with Tadhg Furlong and Ronan Kelleher.
A dedicated Dubliner, Porter has made over 100 appearances for his hometown club Leinster, since his debut in 2016.
England have learned experience of the power of Porter, as the prop muscled his way over the line from close range, in the 2020 Six Nations. Porter’s international accolades are not limited to just Ireland, as he worked his way onto the 2021 British Lions tour to South Africa.