Vunipolas and lock Isiekwe latest England injury worries

LONDON — No. 8 Billy Vunipola is the latest injury blow to England's home rugby test campaign next month after breaking his arm for the third time this year.

Vunipola suffered the left arm break on Saturday in a Champions Cup club match, and will undergo surgery on Tuesday.

Brother and prop Mako Vunipola strained a calf and lock Nick Isiekwe sprained an ankle in the same match, putting their international availability in doubt.

Billy Vunipola has struggled for more than a year to play a sustained spell of rugby. He missed the 2017 British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand after shoulder surgery, then serious knee trouble and two consecutive right-arm fractures denied him yet more test honors.

Vunipola's Saracens club expected him to be out for up to 12 weeks. The club expects the other two to be sidelined, without saying for how long.

Vunipola's absence puts a significant dent in England's No. 8 resources for the tests against South Africa, New Zealand, Japan, and Australia.

Sam Simmonds was already out after tearing knee ligaments, and Nathan Hughes faces a disciplinary hearing on Wednesday. Ben Morgan, unused since the 2015 Rugby World Cup, could become an option again.

Lock Joe Launchbury had knee surgery last week, and winger Anthony Watson was also already ruled out of the November tests.


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