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Injury-hit England sweat on fitness of Robshaw and Brown

By Adam Ellis

Eddie Jones’ first-choice options for his England back row continue to be afflicted by injury, with Chris Robshaw the latest to join the list.

Already without Billy Vunipola, Nathan Hughes Tom Curry, flanker Robshaw has been struggling with a back injury and is rated as a ‘borderline’ inclusion by Eddie Jones for England’s Six Nations opener against Italy next Saturday.

Likewise, Jones will also be waiting on full-back Mike Brown overcoming issues with blurred vision to be in contention. Robshaw’s Harlequins team-mate featured in the 33-28 Premiership victory 11 days ago and linked up England’s training camp in Portugal, but remains a doubt for Italy.

Speaking of the Quins duo, Jones commented: “Chris Robshaw would win any sort of water Olympics at the moment. He’s unbelievable in the pool. He did a water aerobics class with a bunch of Portuguese women yesterday (Tuesday). Apparently, he was the best in the class. If we play Italy in the pool he’d be all right, but if we’re playing rugby then he’d be borderline to get there.

“Mike Brown is starting to do some light skills today (Wednesday) and we’d be hopeful that by the middle of next week he’d be all right to train. He’s also borderline for Italy.”

England have never lost to Italy in 23 matches but with selection issues at loosehead prop and the back row, Jones will be hoping the meeting in Rome doesn’t unsettle his team’s shot at a third-consecutive Six Nations title.

In the event Robshaw and Brown are unavailable to play against Conor O’Shea’s side, Newcastle’s Gary Graham could be handed his debut while Anthony Watson would likely slot in at full-back.

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