Eddie Jones believes George Furbank could not be risked for this weekend’s Guinness Six Nations match against Ireland, as the fullback struggles with an ongoing groin problem.
Furbank endured a self-proclaimed ‘baptism of fire’ on debut against France three weeks ago, before showing solidity in torrid conditions in England’s victory at BT Murrayfield a week later.
But the 23-year-old will miss Sunday’s crunch game against Ireland with the persistent injury, though he will remain with the England squad as emergency cover after Ollie Thorley was released to Gloucester.
“He is just not quite right,” Jones said. “Rather than risk him – he couldn’t train yesterday – we felt like we were better off resting him this week.
“He has a long-term groin and hip issue that’s he had for many a year, and just needed to give it some time.”
Despite the injury, Furbank will still act as travelling reserve for an England team with only two backs on the substitutes’ bench this weekend.
The 23-year-old’s injury means Elliot Daly will move to full-back, where he played for much of England’s run to the World Cup final last year, while Jonathan Joseph will deputise on the wing.
And despite the changes to his side ahead of the showdown at Twickenham, Jones is confident that the replacements in the starting XV can produce the goods on the pitch.
“Elliot has played a lot of Test football at 15, so he welcomes the opportunity before him,” Jones said. “And JJ (Joseph) has played on the wing for us before.
“He could play 12, 13 or on the wings. We used him on the wings during the World Cup, he’s a versatile player, a great defender in space and he’s got good jumping skills.”
England will host Ireland on Sunday hoping to claim their second victory of this year’s Championship, and will be looking to prevent Andy Farrell’s side from winning the Triple Crown in the process.
There will be no Furbank in the squad, but Jones will be boosted by the return of both Manu Tuilagi and Henry Slade, with both players returning from injury in time to feature in the Round 3 clash.
Tuilagi limped off after just 16 minutes in England’s opening round match with France, while Slade had been out since injuring an ankle while playing for Exeter Chiefs in December.
“We’ve had a really good preparation, a little bit edgy on Tuesday and Wednesday, but yesterday we had a really good run, probably our best training session of the Six Nations,” Jones said.
“We are really happy with the team. Good strong team, good forward pack, good backs, and it’s great to have Manu and Sladey back in the 23.
“They are both quality players. They have proven that over the last couple of seasons, so having those two back is a really good bonus for us.”