England head coach Eddie Jones’s injury problems deepened yesterday after Leicester flanker Mike Williams was ruled out of the autumn international series with a broken arm.
Zimbabwe-born Williams was a contender to play as openside flanker when England begin their autumn programme against South Africa at Twickenham on 12 November but is now set for three months on the sidelines.
The knock was sustained during the warm-up before Leicester’s 34-13 Premiership victory over Worcester on Saturday, and is the third time in a year that Williams has suffered the same injury, which has served to lengthen his rehabilitation process.
“Mike is in a cast and will take some specialist advice, but it looks like 8-12 weeks,” said Leicester director of rugby Richard Cockerill.
“Mike felt he had done something and thought it was just a bang, but the medical guys looked at it and Mike was pulled out before kick off.
“He is bitterly disappointed. You would have thought that had he continued the way he has been doing for the last couple of weeks he would have had a chance to play for England.”
Williams has added to a bulging injury list which already includes fellow forwards James Haskell, Jack Clifford and Sam Jones, all of whom have been ruled out of England’s autumn tussles.
Haskell is sidelined with the toe injury he picked up during the summer series in Australia, while Clifford has an ankle problem and Jones a broken leg having fractured his fibula during a judo session at England’s recent training camp.
The spate of injuries has left Jones with few back row permutations at his disposal, with the likeliest being Saracens powerhouse Maro Itoje and former skipper Chris Robshaw either side of Billy Vunipola at No8.
After facing South Africa, England play Fiji a week later followed by Argentina on 26 November and Australia on 3 December.