England face crisis at loosehead

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England could be without their three best loosehead props for the visit of New Zealand on Saturday.

Mako Vunipola, who missed the Argentina test, has already been ruled out with a knee injury, and the man who started the latest game, Joe Marler, is reportedly going through concussion tests. With all the furore surrounding the effect of concussions on rugby players, he will not be rushed back if there is even the slightest danger of further damage – and quite rightly so.

Reports in the Daily Mail have since emerged that Alex Corbisiero, who would likely be first choice, was visiting specialists on Monday to assess “the impact of his Test comeback against Argentina on his knees, which have caused him repeat problems in recent times”.

Wasps prop Matt Mullan has been added to the squad this week as cover, and should either Marler or Corbisiero be ruled out for this weekend as well, he could even be pressed into action against the All Blacks.

Head coach Stuart Lancaster said: “Joe got a bang in the first half so he’s going through the mandatory (procedures) for concussion. Hopefully he’ll be OK for Saturday.

“Matt just missed out on the Saxons and has benefited from a strong start to the season. He’s been around the England squad for quite a while now. He certainly fits in seamlessly, there’s no problem with his inclusion.”

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

12 thoughts on “England face crisis at loosehead

  1. What happens if all 3 are out and Mullan starts? I’d prefer to avoid playing tight heads at loose head a la Matt Stevens, because I know David Wilson can just about cover LH.

    Who goes onto the bench? It won’t happen but I would make an SOS call to Andrew Sheridan (is he fit?). He is experienced enough to fit in seamlessly and SL has every right to call him up due to IRB rules and this really is an ‘exceptional circumstance’ as our 4 EPS/Saxons LH options are injured/suspended.

    Other than that the only guy I can think of is Nathan Catt of Bath. Second choice there but solid enough, he has been in the Saxons before and is a good ball carrier.

    1. Stankovich at Tigers? Really scraping the barrel, but think I remember him being mentioned in an England conversation a few years ago.

  2. Slightly worrying. Let’s hope at least one of Corbs/Marler are fit.

    Otherwise who next? Stankovich feels a bit deperate; I know he has been in England a while but does that mean he can be pulled in automatically? Sheridan I can see, but I have no idea if he is fit.

    Matt Stevens? He can play there I guess.

    Is there actually anyone else?

    1. Waller’s playing well at Saints, no? He might be the best shout. Raw, certainly, but Saints certainly don’t seem to be missing Corbisiero that much!

      1. Yeh not a bad shout. I struggle to come up with any other names so it may have to be him…

        Crazy that arguably our most competitive position the one are having a crisis in!

  3. Actually, as I think about it, it is not unreasonable to go and see the specialist following the first outing post-treatment.

    So the optimist in me believes that there is nothing to worry about with Corbisiero’s knee.

    Unless the Daily Mail had wire taps in the consulting room (thats the cynic in me)

  4. Waller for sure. He had the better of Adam Jones a few weeks ago and totally demolished Matt Stevens a few days later.

  5. I’m not sure why we’re talking about the lack of a loose head when the only two wingers in the England squad (except Eastmond) capable of anything resembling attacking play are wrong. I’m worried that England will be forced to play with 13 men in attack. 12 if Brown comes off.

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