After what was a brilliant 2016 for England, the new year might become for more troublesome for Eddie Jones and his undefeated squad.
Although Jones had to deal with numerous injuries during the autumn series, England concluded 2016 with 14 consecutive victories.
However with Jones having to deal with the fallout of Dylan Hartley’s sending off, and possibly having to make a decision over the captaincy, 2017 promises to be more difficult.
A situation made more complicated on Christmas Eve, after Saracens confirmed Mako Vunipola could miss the entirety of England’s Six Nations campaign.
The inform loose head suffered suspected ligament damage in his left knee after being forced off the field during Saracens’ 24-10 European Rugby Champions Cup win over the Sale Sharks last weekend.
Such is the extent of the swelling, Vunipola has yet to undergo scans to determine the extent of the injury, but Saracens have put a four to 12 week time frame on his recovery.
The 25 year-old is expected to see a specialist at some point during the next two weeks to confirm the extent of the ligament injury.
Minimal damage will see Vunipola return before the end of January, but anything ranging above the four week threshold will see him miss some if not all of the Six Nations.
On this week’s edition of the Oval Office Podcast, we speak to Jamie Roberts and look ahead at the festive fixture list.
Alan Drumm, Pundit Arena