England’s training schedule ahead of the hotly anticipated NatWest Six Nations has been ‘changed considerably’ according to Head Coach, Eddie Jones.
The adjustments were made following a string of injury concerns to some of the squad’s key players.
Jones’ side, who are currently training in Portugal, are now undergoing a ‘mini pre-season’ schedule with no rugby being played until Thursday at the earliest.
‘It’s in the hope it makes the players a bit fresher,’ Jones explained, adding, ‘It’s how they respond [to the fatigue], and the mental part of the game is important.’
England face Italy on Sunday 4th February in Rome, and have already announced their squad for the opening Six Nations fixture, but this may be amended, following any fresh injury concerns.
There are currently doubts over a number of players’ fitness ahead of the game, with centre Harry Slade and prop Kyle Sinckler already being ruled out thanks to respective shoulder and hamstring injuries.
Jones reports that it could be ‘three or four weeks’ before Slade returns to the frame whilst it is looking like a minimum of ‘six to eight’ weeks for Sinckler.
It will also be a race against time for Mike Brown and Chris Robshaw as they attempt to regain fitness ahead of the Azzuri clash. Full-back Brown is currently absent with an eye injury whilst flanker Robshaw is suffering with a back problem.
‘We think they will both be alright – Robshaw might be a bit more touch and go’, Jones added.
England have only a handful of rookie back-row forwards to choose from now, thanks to the aforementioned Robshaw and Maro Itoje nursing minor injuries.
Jones, who observed the back-rowers in camp on Tuesday, posits that only Gary Graham, Sam Simmonds, Zach Mercer and Nick Isiekwe are available as it stands.
He added: ‘The most capped player out of those guys is Nick Isiekwe – he’s 19. He’s failed his driving test five times. So he can’t drive anywhere, and he’s out most experienced player.’
The England Head Coach hopes to welcome Chris Robshaw back in time for the opening Six Nations fixture, but also believes that with the unfortunate injury-stricken period, comes a great opportunity to bed in the less experienced players.
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(Quotes taken from the BBC)