Toby Booth urges England not to pick Sam Underhill ahead of South Africa tour

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By Jake Jones
Bath coach Toby Booth has urged England not to consider flanker Sam Underhill for next month’s tour of South Africa as the 21-year-old has a “long way to go” before he returns to full fitness.
Underhill ruptured a tendon in his big toe during an England training camp in March and when asked if there was a chance he would be ready for the tour, Booth said: “Not as far as we’re aware. He would have to accelerate [his recovery] a lot to do that.”
With back-row options Nathan Hughes and Courtney Lawes out of action, England coach Eddie Jones is looking for reinforcements but Booth said any attempt to fast-track Underhill’s return would be an unnecessary risk. In the likely event that Underhill does not travel to South Africa, Brad Shields’ availability becomes that bit more important.
“He returned to us broken and he’s not set one foot on the training pitch,” Booth added.
“He’s still at the rehab stage so I’d imagine he’s got a long way to go yet. Everyone knows what international rugby is like and going away to South Africa is certainly not going to be for the fainthearted and the under prepared.
“You need to be at your best for those sorts of tours, so hopefully common sense prevails and they do what is right for England, for us and for Sam.”
England captain Dylan Hartley, centre Jonathan Joseph, lock George Kruis and winger Anthony Watson have also been ruled out of England’s three tests against the Springboks in June. Underhill’s injury takes Bath’s injured international count to three.

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