Italy flank apologises for injury to England's Willis
REACTION: Italy flank Sebastian Negri has apologised after his tackle left England’s Jack Willis contemplating the prospect of a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
Replacement forward Willis had to leave Twickenham on a motorised cart following a knee injury during the final quarter of England’s 41-18 Six Nations victory over Italy on Saturday.
Howls of agony from the Wasps turnover specialist, who only moments earlier had scored the fifth of England’s six tries, were clearly audible as his left knee buckled under a challenge from Negri in a match played behind closed doors because of Covid-19 restrictions.
It appeared Negri was performing a move known as a ‘crocodile roll’, used to twist a player from a ruck, an action which is allowed in Rugby Union so long as it does not involve a tackle around the neck.
Although, Negri was not involved in an act of foul play on Saturday, there has long been a discussion about whether the game should allow crocodile rolls as a means of clearing out players at a ruck.
“A quick message to Jack Willis. So sorry about what happened yesterday [Saturday],” Negri tweeted Sunday.
“Just horrible and never nice to see. Myself and all the @Federugby [Italy team] boys are wishing you all the best.
“I hope to see you back on the field again soon. Take care and we all know you will be back stronger. Seb”.
Back-row forward Willis only won the first of his three Test caps in November following previous knee and ankle problems.
England coach Eddie Jones, speaking after Saturday’s match, expressed his worry about the extent of Willis’ latest injury
“We’re all concerned,” Jones told reporters. “He’s on crutches. He’ll be examined tomorrow [Sunday] but obviously it didn’t look good and probably isn’t good.
“We’ll just wait and see. He’s got some sort of knee injury and has been in the dressing room with us.”
Meanwhile, Wasps coach Lee Blackett, who has since had a text conversation with the 24-year-old Willis, said Sunday: “It’s one of those, it’s quite emotional.
“We have seen Jack, for the last few years, come back from his last one, just on the verge of England, then gets himself in this time, and it looked a nasty one. We’ll know more come today [Sunday].”