England's forward injury crisis has been accentuated by the news second row George Kruis will miss the rest of the Six Nations Championship with a knee ligament injury. The Saracens lock suffered the blow during training ahead of the opener against France and saw two specialists last week to discover the full extent of the injury.
But the prognosis for the 26-year-old is not good and having been sidelined for the 19-16 win over Les Blues will have to undergo surgery to correct the problem which throws his selection for the British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand this summer into serious doubt. Kruis' rehabilitation is expected to take between 10 and 12 weeks, meaning he will not play again before Warren Gatland names his squad on 19 April.
Kruis was a pivotal presence during England 13 consecutive wins under Eddie Jones during 2016, playing in all five games as the Red Rose won their first Six Nations grand slam since 2003 and then whitewashed Australia Down Under. He then featured in the autumn wins against Argentina and Australia at Twickenham before a broken cheekbone threatened to disrupt his season.
The defending champions are already without Chris Robshaw for the whole of the competition, while Billy Vunipola is unlikely to feature due to a knee problem. Kruis' absence means England remain stretched in the second row, with Jones intent on playing Maro Itoje in the back row to cover for Robshaw.
Mako Vunipola is however on the road to recovery and will join-up with England this week ahead of the clash with Wales at the Principality Stadium. Anthony Watson is also available following a hamstring injury and assembled with the rest of the squad at Pennyhill Park on Sunday [5 February].
Victory over France was secured via a late try from Ben Te'o, who went over for his maiden international try on just his third appearance. But the Worcester man is urging an improvment in time to face Wales in their second match next weekend in Cardiff.
"It was a little bit ugly and we've got a lot to work on in the week so we'll look at our preparation," he said ahead of the clash at the Principality Stadium. "We got the victory, so it's a good start. All that matters is we got the points and we'll roll onto next week. We've got a few things to tidy up, we can always get better. I've never played against Wales and I've never played at the Principality so I'm looking forward to going there."