The England and Lions three-quarter Elliot Daly will miss the Six Nations Championship after sustaining an ankle injury playing for Wasps last weekend that will rule him out for three months, even though he may not need surgery.
Daly’s club and international colleague, the No8 Nathan Hughes, will miss at least the first three rounds of the Six Nations, which England have won for the past two years, after sustaining a knee injury in the same match against La Rochelle last Sunday.
Better news for Eddie Jones is that Saracens expect their No8 Billy Vunipola to return to action in two or three weeks, four months after he had a knee operation. He missed the autumn internationals, with Hughes filling in for him against Argentina and Australia.
Daly’s loss will be keenly felt by the England head coach, and not just because of his versatility: he plays on the wing for his country and in the centre for his club and has appeared at full-back. He started all three of England’s November Tests, scoring three tries, and his ability to roam the field sharpens the attack.
“Elliot has a syndesmosis injury, which is quite common,” said Dai Young, the Wasps director of rugby who lost a third player to injury in the victory against La Rochelle with the centre and goal-kicker Jimmy Gopperth out for at least two months with knee ligament damage.
“Elliot is going to see the specialist to see whether any surgical intervention is required. We hope it will not be but it will depend on the grade of the injury. It’s a very physical game these days, and players do pick up injuries. Unfortunately, we’ve had a worse run this season than over the last few years, but most of them have been contact injuries and there’s very little we can do about that.”
The Worcester centre Ben Te’o is likely miss the start of the Six Nations because of a knee injury, although his loss is offset by the return of Manu Tuilagi to fitness. The flanker Sam Underhill has not played since his second concussion of the season during England’s victory against Australia last month, while his fellow back-rower Chris Robshaw is also following return‑to‑play protocols after being concussed for the second time in two months two weeks ago. The second-row Maro Itoje is recovering from a broken jaw and is expected back in a month.