Increase in injuries dismissed as cyclical by players’ boss

Players’ chief Damian Hopley insists the injury problems afflicting England are cyclical rather than evidence of an increased rate of attrition in the game.

England's Luther Burrell celebrates scoring a try during the RBS Six Nations match at Twickenham, London.
England's Luther Burrell celebrates scoring a try during the RBS Six Nations match at Twickenham, London.

Seven British and Irish Lions in Alex Corbisiero, Tom Youngs, Dan Cole, Mako Vunipola, Geoff Parling, Tom Croft and Manu Tuilagi have been ruled out of the entire QBE Series at Twickenham.

Injury updates on Billy Vunipola, Joe Marler, David Wilson and Luther Burrell are expected today with Huddersfield-born Burrell likely to miss at least the opener against New Zealand on Saturday week.

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Hopley, chief executive of the Rugby Players’ Association, is unconcerned by the number of casualties and believes it may aid England’s World Cup campaign next year.

“Dare I say it, but it’s a cycle. If these players are not coming back to fitness by the Six Nations then it becomes an issue,” said Hopley.

“What it does do is give an opportunity to other players to stake a claim.

“It’s a really unfortunate situation that so many high-profile players are injured at the same time, but I don’t think it’s a crisis.

“It’s just part of the cycle of the year and it might be a blessing in disguise for the World Cup, giving players more time off to ensure they’re in great nick for that.”

The RPA has appointed Northampton’s Christian Day as chairman and Chris Bell of Wasps as vice-chairman.

Scotland head coach Vern Cotter has brought two additional players into his squad as injury cover ahead of the autumn internationals.

Glasgow centre Peter Horne and uncapped Edinburgh scrum-half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne have been called up due to doubts over Alex Dunbar (ankle) and Chris Cusiter, whose calf strain kept him out of Sale’s 35-3 European Cup defeat at Clermont.

Australia will summon Kurtley Beale to their tour of Europe if he proves his fitness after assistant coach Nathan Grey revealed he was left behind for conditioning rather than disciplinary reasons.

Beale was dropped for the last two Tests against Argentina and New Zealand after becoming embroiled in a high-profile row with Wallabies business manager Di Patston, who has since resigned.

The 25-year-old was fined £24,640 after being found guilty of a serious breach of the Australian Rugby Union’s code of conduct. Grey insists he could be involved in the Tests against Wales, France, Ireland and England.