Owen Farrell has been ruled out of England’s training camp this week with a head injury, dealing Eddie Jones a major setback and leaving the head coach without his two main candidates for the captaincy as he steps up preparations in Jersey.
Farrell sustained a head injury in Saracens’ victory over Exeter on Saturday and afterwards his director of rugby, Mark McCall, said the playmaker was facing a 12-day stand down period. Accordingly, Farrell has not travelled to Jersey and will go through the return to play protocols at home with Henry Slade earning a reprieve as a result.
Jonny May has also withdrawn with a dislocated elbow and Henry Arundell is only able to travel to Jersey for rehab with Sale’s Tom Roebuck and Newcastle’s Adam Radwan also called up.
Courtney Lawes was Jones’s preferred captain for the summer tour of Australia but he too is sidelined with a head injury suffered in late September. He withdrew from the Jersey camp last Friday and is expected to see a specialist this week after showing symptoms last week. Both Lawes and Farrell could yet prove their fitness for England’s opening autumn Test against Argentina a week on Sunday but the clock is ticking and at the very least, their absences are a major blow to England and Jones, who puts considerable emphasis on training camps prior to international campaigns.
Tom Curry, who led England against Scotland and Italy during the Six Nations with both Farrell and Lawes injured, would be among the contenders for the captaincy against the Pumas while Ellis Genge and Luke Cowan-Dickie would also be in the frame.
Cowan-Dickie sustained a knee injury against Saracens but he has travelled to Jersey with the rest of the squad. If he proves his fitness in Jersey it would be a considerable boost for Jones because Jamie George is already sidelined and the two other hookers in the squad – Jack Singleton and George McGuigan – have just three caps between them.
May’s withdrawal was expected after a nasty injury against London Irish on Friday night but it is further bad luck for England’s second highest try-scorer who tested positive for Covid in Australia over the summer, having battled back from a long-term knee injury.
Arundell, meanwhile, aggravated a previous foot injury in the same match but there is hope he will be fit for the start of the autumn campaign.
Roebuck, 21, is rewarded for an impressive start to the season with Sale with a first call-up in an area England are suddenly looking light without May and with Anthony Watson still not deemed ready to return and Tommy Freeman also sidelined.
Jones has also called up Charlie Atkinson – among the players made redundant by Wasps last week – as a “training player” given Marcus Smith was the only specialist fly-half in the squad after Farrell’s absence. Will Stuart has also travelled to Jersey for rehab on a knee injury.