Jones: England can cope despite injuries
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: England will launch the defence of their Six Nations title without a number of big names but head coach Eddie Jones is confident his Grand Slam-winning squad can cope.
Manu Tuilagi recent knee injury lengthened what is already a sizeable Red Rose injury list.
The Leicester Tigers centre is set to miss the rest of the season.
While both Mako and Billy Vunipola are going to miss the start of the Championship as is Wasps lock Joe Launchbury.
And with question marks over the likes of Chris Robshaw, George Kruis and James Haskell, Jones knows his squad will be tested.
But after an unbeaten 2016 - his first year in charge - the Australian is confident his squad can step up to the plate.
"This is the way it is with injuries. As we said in November, it is a chance to create some more depth," Jones said.
"For 2017 we are going to be missing potentially four of the starting pack, but we got through November without seven front-line players. So it's a great opportunity, exciting.
"People say 'relax and enjoy the job', but you never relax. You've got to get on with it. You wake up every day and hope someone else doesn't get injured,"
The news that Tuilagi will be out for six months comes as a crushing blow for the Leicester Tiger - who has only played 11 Premiership games in the last three seasons - as his career continues to be beset by injury woe.
But Tigers head coach Aaron Mauger is adamant that we have not yet seen the best of the Samoan-born centre.
"It's looking like a six-month recovery which is devastating for the bloke, he's worked so hard to get back to where he is.
"He's absolutely gutted, but we've got a good support team around him, we'll put a good plan in place and we'll see him back on the field early next season," he said.
"We're really proud of the growth we've seen in him as a person.
"He was starting to get his explosive power and speed back and is really starting to understand the game better as well.
"He's starting to become a more complete rugby player which is a great space for him to be in,"