England star ruled out of Wales clash
SPOTLIGHT: Courtney Lawes could make an England comeback in this weekend’s Six Nations clash against Wales, but Tom Curry’s hopes of a Test return have been scuppered by an unspecified leg injury.
Loose forward Curry was poised to make his first international appearance since November, having recovered from a torn hamstring.
But he has now withdrawn from the reduced 26-man squad named Tuesday by England coach Steve Borthwick.
The 24-year-old Sale flank’s twin brother Ben has been drafted in as his replacement but there is no place in the squad for back row Ben Earl, who made an impact off the bench against both Scotland and Italy in England’s opening two games this Six Nations.
“Tom’s going to be a big player for us,” defence coach Kevin Sinfield told reporters at England’s training camp in Bagshot, southwest of London, on Tuesday.
“We’ll miss him this weekend. He’s been really good in camp. He’s a seasoned international now and he’s got a lot of caps under his belt.”
Lawes, however, has been recalled as the back-five forward nears a first England appearance since leading the July tour of Australia.
The 33-year-old has spent much of this season on the sidelines as a result of concussion, neck, glute and calf injuries but could play a role in Cardiff either as a lock or at blindside flank.
“Aside from his playing ability, Courtney gets more out of the players around him,” Sinfield said.
“There aren’t that many players in world rugby who have that influence across the team. He’s certainly got it.
“He’s got a real presence – he’s physical, he’s tough and he’s very, very mobile for a big man. All things being well, he should be there at the weekend.”
There will be at least one guaranteed change to the starting XV that defeated Italy 31-14 last time out after Ollie Hassell-Collins was ruled out because of a knee problem.
Anthony Watson and the uncapped Cadan Murley are retained as wing cover, with Henry Arundell – on the bench against the Azzurri at Twickenham – another option.
The build-up to the match has been overshadowed by the threat of strike action by Wales players, who are locked in a bitter contract row with the Welsh Rugby Union.
Wales coach Warren Gatland said Tuesday he was confident the match will go ahead, but a resolution to the dispute has still to be agreed.
“We control what we can control and look ahead to what will be a fantastic game and something that we’ve all looked forward to,” said Sinfield. “We’ve planned as normal, nothing’s changed for us.”
Borthwick is due to name his match-day 23 on Thursday.