Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Question Mark over Kruis as Training-Ground Knock Causes Concern for Jones

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Question Mark over Kruis as Training-Ground Knock Causes Concern for Jones

Article excerpt

Byline: Chris Jones

EDDIE JONES will discover today if he has been robbed of line-out expert George Kruis for England's Six Nations opener against France after the injury jinx that has given the head coach a multitude of problems struck again.

Jones found himself listening to medical reports on two players who were injured in yesterday's training session, with Kruis hurting a knee and wing Johnny May needing stitches in a head wound.

While May does not have to undergo head-injury assessment protocols and will be available to play at Twickenham on Saturday, Kruis is left worrying about yet another medical verdict -- the third he has faced this season.

The Saracens second-row missed two of the autumn internationals after undergoing ankle surgery and then broke his cheekbone playing against Newcastle on Christmas Eve but recovered quickly enough to convince Jones to play him against France despite lacking match practice.

Now, though, Kruis's selection is in the hands of the medical experts and England have given themselves options by retaining 25 players to prepare for the match.

Jones has already been robbed of Billy and Mako Vunipola, Anthony Watson, Manu Tuilagi and Chris Robshaw through injury and now he may have to add Kruis to the list yet again.

Kruis is one of four second-rows in the squad, joining Maro Itoje, Joe Launchbury and Courtney Lawes, and his absence would force a significant change among the replacements. It was expected that Kruis would start against France, with Itoje at blind-side flanker, Lawes filling the other lock place and Launchbury on the bench.

If Kruis is ruled out and Lawes is joined by Launchbury at lock, with Itoje at No6, the bench will feature two back-row forwards, probably James Haskell and Teimana Harrison. Jones has also opted to keep Ellis Genge in the squad, which gives him three loose-head props as Matt Mullan and Joe Marler are also included.

Marler has recovered from a broken leg, although the fact that all three props have been retained suggests England are covering for any late reaction from the Harlequins player.

Marler has recovered without the use of any hi-tech aids and although England have a cryotheraphy unit at their Surrey hotel, Standard Sport understands he has not used this during the two weeks he has been under the control of the international squad's medical and strength and conditioning experts. …

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