Joe Marler: England and Harlequins prop a doubt for early Six Nations games

Joe Marler
Joe Marler played nine times for England in 2016 as Eddie Jones' side went the whole year unbeaten

England prop Joe Marler is set to miss the start of the Six Nations in February after sustaining a fracture to his lower leg playing for Harlequins.

The loose-head, 26, is expected to be out for four to five weeks, and is set to miss England's opener against France on 4 February.

Marler has made 46 Test appearances for England since his debut in 2012.

He adds to a lengthy injury list for coach Eddie Jones, which includes fellow Quins man Chris Robshaw.

Jones led the side to a Grand Slam in 2016 but the Australian has a number of injury worries going into this year's tournament:

  • 27 November: Saracens number eight Billy Vunipola (knee) ruled out for three months.
  • 24 December: Saracens prop Mako Vunipola (knee) ruled out for four to 12 weeks. Lock George Kruis fractures his cheekbone, but is likely to be fit for the France game.
  • 4 January: Leicester centre Manu Tuilagi (knee) ruled out for at least six months.
  • 8 January: Wasps flanker James Haskell concussed 35 seconds into his return from a toe injury - will miss Saturday's game with Toulouse.
  • 9 January: Harlequins flanker Chris Robshaw (shoulder) ruled out for three months.

Captain Dylan Hartley, who is suspended until 23 January, will also need to prove his fitness before the competition starts.

Analysis

Chris Jones, BBC Radio 5 live rugby union reporter

After barely having to deal with an injury at the start of his time in charge, England boss Eddie Jones is now experiencing what many of his predecessors did, with Marler the latest in a long line of setbacks.

With Mako Vunipola also out, England have lost two outstanding loose-heads, and the back-up is inexperienced. Matt Mullan heads the queue from Nathan Catt and the impressive Leicester tyro Ellis Genge.

Jones has the resources to cope with any injury crisis, but will desperately hoping the likes of Joe Launchbury, George Kruis, James Haskell - as well as captain Dylan Hartley - can prove their match fitness ahead of the tournament opener against France.

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