England’s Itoje to miss matches against France and Wales

Lynette Rowe
February 9, 2019

A scan will reveal the extent of the damage with an update expected on Tuesday.

Itoje will remain at the squad's Surrey training base to continue his rehabilitation and in the meantime England must decide how to cover for the loss of a player who coach Eddie Jones believes will soon be recognised as the best lock in the world. "You have got to be prepared to give as good as you get and I don't think we did tonight".

"Half-time was probably the worse thing to happen because you're sitting down for, whatever, 10 or 15 minutes and it just got a bit sore".

"We will be better in the next game because we are still growing", he said.

With Italy away to come next the game with England in Cardiff is not surprisingly the hottest ticket in town right now and Wales shouldn't be underestimated as they look to upset the odds and topple a much fancied England side.

"We got man-handled a little bit".

"When we don't have that [variety] unfortunately we're struggling against teams of the quality of England". They're well coached, well drilled. "We went out with a certain plan that we thought would work and we stuck at it, and that's what really pleased me".

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"We wanted to create space and kicking is one way to do that and the execution of our kicking and chasing was very good", Jones explained.

"We'll have a hard look at ourselves".

Ireland were heralded by Jones as the strongest team in the world leading into the Dublin collision, but having dispatched them with a near-faultless display he refused to make any bold predictions for Japan 2019.

Mako Vunipola was colossal, with 27 tackles, 11 ball carries and not an inch conceded against Tadhg Furlong while Jamie George, Mark Wilson, Tom Curry and Owen Farrell had the game of their lives; epitomising England's fighting spirit in a fixture which they hadn't won since 2011. "I know the players are disappointed that we didn't have quite the same physical edge".

These two sides have dominated the competition since 2013, with the Irish looking to secure back-to-back Championship's under Joe Schmidt.

"That is a reality check about the physicality that will be required to be successful in this World Cup year", said Schmidt. It was a suffocating place to be on that pitch tonight.

The 32-20 defeat was a chastening experience for Ireland, who have risen from eighth to second in the world rankings since Schmidt took over in 2013, recording two memorable wins over the No.1 ranked New Zealand along the way.

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