England No.8 Billy Vunipola will miss the entirety of the Six Nations after breaking his arm for a fourth time.
An injured Vunipola had to be withdrawn from play on 6 minutes in Saracens’ Champions Cup win over Racing 92 last weekend.
His absence is set to impact both club and country as Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall revealed the expected length of time Vunipola will be out of action for.
“Obviously it’s broken so it ranges from 16 weeks to a lot longer than that so we’ll wait and see,” McCall confirmed.
It appears to be the same arm which Vunipola has broken twice before. The first time coming against the Ospreys in January 2018 where he broke his right arm, doing the same again in England’s tour of South Africa that summer.
Later that same year, the 51-Test back row had the misfortune of seeing another x-ray scan with a broken bone, this time to his left arm in the Champions Cup against Glasgow.
Eddie Jones named his England squad for the tournament earlier this week following the final round of the European pool stage, with in-form Sam Simmonds, Alex Dombrandt and Teimana Harrison overlooked for selection.
The back rows included by Jones are not recognised as out-and-out No.8s, with Saracens’ Ben Earl and Bath’s Sam Underhill, both openside flankers, likely to revert to the position for England first game against France at Stade de France.
Though Jones could also spring a surprise in selecting Tom Curry, Ted Hill and Lewis Ludlam at the position.
“We’ve got another opportunity to become the best team in the world,” Jones said.
“We also want to be the greatest team that the game of rugby has ever seen, we want to set ourselves high, we want to really see how we can extend ourselves that’s why we’ve brought in a number of young players as we want to see how far this team can go.”
For Saracens, the worst-case scenario for Vunipola to recover from the injury would see him miss their Champions Cup quarter-final against Leinster in the first week of April.
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