England: Ollie Chessum ruled out of Six Nations finale against Ireland
England have been dealt an injury blow ahead of their Six Nations showdown with Ireland after Ollie Chessum was ruled out with an ankle issue.
Chessum suffered the injury during training on Tuesday and will miss the climax to the Championship on St Patrick’s weekend, which takes place in Dublin.
The 22-year-old has impressed during the Six Nations and his absence will be a blow to Steve Borthwick as they look to bounce back from the France defeat.
It will now be a choice between David Ribbans, Nick Isiekwe, George Martin and Jonny Hill as to who partners Maro Itoje for the game at the Aviva Stadium.
Chessum ruled out
“Ollie will be a huge loss. He’s been great for us. We’ve played him in the second-row but he covers back-row for us as well,” defence coach Kevin Sinfield said.
Chessum joins another starter from that France loss on the sidelines ahead of this weekend, with centre Ollie Lawrence ruled out due to a hamstring injury.
However, a 30-player squad named on Tuesday suggests Borthwick might not replace Lawrence with Manu Tuilagi, as he retains three fly-halves in his squad.
That means England could opt to move captain Owen Farrell back to inside centre, with Marcus Smith and George Ford the other options at number 10 in Dublin.
“It’s about getting the balance right between giving those guys another shot but also making sure that the selection is right for the opposition we’re playing against, which is what we’ve tried to do during the campaign,” Sinfield said regarding team selection.
“We’ve tried to pick a team that suits both how we want to play but also the opposition’s strengths and weaknesses.
“We will stay along that same theme but the balance between the two will be crucial for us this weekend.”
The record-breaking loss at Twickenham was difficult to take for the English players, with Sinfield revealing the defeat over the weekend cut the team deep.
“It’s been tough. Any time you get 50 stuck on your chin it’s not nice,” he said.
“You probably get a fair bit less sleep because you’re mulling things over trying to understand why, but we’ve worked incredibly hard over the last couple of days to try and fix some of the areas we fell short in – and there are quite a few.
“The players were hit pretty hard as you can expect from a result like that but we’ve stuck together and we fight through it as a team, squad and staff to ensure that we continue to move forward.
“This was never going to be a straight line and it was never going to be straightforward.
“When you ship 50 points and you’re in charge of the defence, it doesn’t sit well with you. I certainly don’t put this at the players’ door. We’re all in this together and we’ve got to work our way through it.
“For whatever reason we didn’t turn up on Saturday. It’s our jobs to fix it and make sure it doesn’t happen again.
“It shouldn’t have happened on Saturday but what’s done is done, we learn the lessons, pick the bones out of it and ensure we’re better this weekend.”
Forwards: Dan Cole, Ben Curry, Alex Dombrandt, Tom Dunn, Ellis Genge, Jamie George, Jonny Hill, Nick Isiekwe, Maro Itoje, Lewis Ludlam, George Martin, David Ribbans, Bevan Rodd, Kyle Sinckler, Mako Vunipola, Jack Walker, Jack Willis
Backs: Henry Arundell, Owen Farrell, George Ford, Ollie Hassell-Collins, Max Malins, Joe Marchant, Alex Mitchell, Henry Slade, Marcus Smith, Freddie Steward, Manu Tuilagi, Jack van Poortvliet, Anthony Watson
READ MORE: Six Nations: Marcus Smith believes England is ready to ‘stand up and fight’ against Ireland
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