Chris Robshaw will miss the entire 2017 Six Nations tournament after confirmation that the former England captain is set to be sidelined for approximately three months. The experienced flanker joined Jack Clifford, Jamie Roberts and George Merrick as one of four Harlequins players to be forced off injured at half-time of a surprise 24-17 Aviva Premiership defeat to lowly Worcester Warriors on New Year's Day.
Quins director of rugby John Kingston admitted after the match that Robshaw "should have come off when he had the bang, but bravery kept him out there as we were in a mess". The 30-year-old, who was definitely expected to miss at least defending Grand Slam champions England's opening clash with France on 4 February, later visited a specialist for advice on his injured shoulder. He is now set to go under the knife in a bid to rectify the issue.
"Chris Robshaw will undergo surgery on his left shoulder today to repair an injury sustained in the match against Worcester Warriors on New Year's Day," Quins confirmed in a statement released via their official website on Monday afternoon (9 January).
"He is expected to be out of competitive action for around 12 weeks. Harlequins will provide relevant updates on his progress as appropriate."
Robshaw was replaced as England skipper by Dylan Hartley in the aftermath of a dire 2015 World Cup campaign that led to Eddie Jones succeeding Stuart Lancaster as head coach. However, he remained an influential figure after moving from openside to blindside and started every single game of an extraordinarily successful calendar year, aside from May's one-off international against Wales at Twickenham.
With Jones set to name his Six Nations squad on 20 January, the Australian is facing something of an injury crisis in the pack. While Joe Launchbury is scheduled to return from a calf complaint next week, both Vunipola brothers are currently out with knee problems and Robshaw's club teammate, loosehead prop Joe Marler, faces a scan his own calf issue. Hooker Hartley will also have to prove his fitness upon returning from a six-week suspension for striking on 23 January.
Saracens lock George Kruis is expected to recover from a fractured cheekbone in time to face France, but James Haskell lasted just 35 seconds on his comeback following seven months out with a toe injury before being forced off with concussion. If Kruis and Launchbury can both prove their fitness, than Jones is likely to ask the versatile Maro Itoje, who himself missed the autumn internationals with a fractured right hand, to switch from second row to blindside flanker.
England pre-Six Nations injury concerns/absentees
Chris Robshaw (Harlequins) - shoulder
Joe Marler (Harlequins) - calf
Jack Clifford (Harlequins) - concussion
Billy Vunipola (Saracens) - knee
Mako Vunipola (Saracens) - knee
George Kruis (Saracens) - cheekbone
James Haskell (Wasps) - concussion
Joe Launchbury (Wasps) - calf
Elliot Daly (Wasps) - head
Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers) - knee