Injuries have not been kind to England in the build-up to this November Series, and this trend continued as it was announced on Friday that George Kruis would be having ankle surgery, ruling him out for “a number of weeks” according to his club, Saracens.
Mark McCall, Saracens director of rugby, said:
“After consultation with George and England we are in all in agreement that it’s in the best interest of the player to undergo this minor procedure now with the majority of the season still ahead of us.
“George is on the road to recovery and we look forward to his return to action sooner rather than later.”
Second row is a position of exceptional strength for England, and the options to replace Kruis are vast.
Here we take a look at just five of them.
Arguably the obvious choice for replacing Kruis, Joe Launchbury was one of England’s only shining lights at last year’s World Cup. The Wasps captain has had a good start to the season, and at only 25 years old already has 35 caps for England.
His work around the loose combined with Maro Itoje would provide the backrow with valuable support at the breakdown.
Lawes would be in line for his 50th cap if he was chosen to replace Kruis, and arguably he is more of a similar player to Kruis than Launchbury.
Although it is unlikely Jones will be sentimental about this achievement, Lawes’ work at the lineout with club-mate Hartley could prove to be a thorn in the side of opposition, both offensively and defensively.
In the squad but without a cap, Josh Beaumont looks certain to follow in his legendary father’s footsteps and win a cap at some point in the future.
Although he has been playing at number 8 for his club, Beaumont is more than able to fill in at second row given is 6ft 3in frame. He may not offer as much as others in the lineout, but undoubtedly will be in the mix heading into England’s first test against South Africa.
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Charlie Ewels is the youngest on this list, and at only 20 years old with 38 games for Bath under his belt already things are already looking good for Ewels.
Already in the squad and in tremendous form, a cap would not be unwarranted. With a few more games under his belt, he would be in with a shout, but it seems unlikely that the 6ft 6in second row will start this time around.
Time is not up for “Bath’s giant” having been left out of England’s training squad. The 29-year-old is an old school, uncompromising second row, dominant in the lineout and, at 6ft 7in, an imposing figure.
The reason for his selection would be his reliability at the lineout, and his ability to cause problems for opposition hookers with their throws.
It is more than likely that the most suitable option for this vacancy is Launchbury, given his experience and work around the pitch, with Lawes providing cover from the bench.
It is clear, however, that second row is a position of exceptional strength for England, and the embarrassment of riches possessed by Jones can only be a positive before the gruelling four-test series begins.
Oscar Reilly, Pundit Arena
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