Anthony Watson has been ruled out of the Rugby World Cup after injuring his calf in last week’s defeat to Ireland; Jonny May will replace Watson in the England squad for Saturday’s friendly against Fiji; England will be without banned Owen Farrell and Billy Vunipola for the start of the World Cup
17:17 UK Thursday 24 August 2023
England winger Anthony Watson has been ruled out of the Rugby World Cup with a calf problem.
Watson picked up the injury in last week’s friendly defeat to Ireland and has now been withdrawn from the 33-man squad.
The 29-year-old is the second England player to be forced out of the tournament in recent weeks, with Jack van Poortvliet missing from the scrum with an ankle problem.
Gloucester’s Jonny May will start Saturday’s friendly against Fiji in Watson’s absence, although he has not yet been added to the World Cup party, with head coach Steve Borthwick confirming a replacement for Watson next week.
England will be without captain and fly-half Owen Farrell and No.8 Billy Vunipola for the start of the competition.
Farrell will play matches against Argentina on September 9 and Japan eight days later, while Vunipola will miss the match in Argentina.
On Watson’s injury, Borthwick said: “Anthony Watson picked up a calf injury against Ireland which means he’s out for a few weeks.
“As such he will not be part of the 33 that travel to France next week. We are all really disappointed with him.”
Borthwick expects Watson’s team-mates Elliot Daly (knee) and Henry Arundell (back) to be fit for the World Cup after both were ruled out of the games in Fiji.
Borthwick also revealed that winger Tom Curry (ankle) will soon resume full training after missing England’s entire World Cup warm-up programme.
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