Maro Itoje is a doubt for the start of England’s Six Nations campaign after Saracens confirmed he suffered a broken jaw during the club’s 20-19 defeat by Harlequins last Sunday.
Itoje left the field early in the second half with blood pouring from his mouth and was taken to hospital where scans have revealed a fracture. England begin the defence of their Six Nations title away to Italy on 4 February and the top-end of the recovery timeframe for a broken jaw can be up to 10 weeks. Itoje’s England team-mate Anthony Watson spent two months on the sidelines with a similar injury last autumn.
It means Eddie Jones faces a nervous wait with the 23-year-old Itoje due to see a specialist later this week, when the length of his absence will become clearer. He is however, certain to miss Saracens’ back-to-back Champions Cup matches against last year’s finalists Clermont, the first of which is on Sunday at Allianz Park.
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It is a major blow for Saracens, the two-times defending European champions who have lost their last five matches in all competitions, including three in a row in the Premiership. Itoje made his return for the club in the loss at Harlequins, having been absent for his club throughout the autumn internationals despite starting only one of England’s three matches.
Before the autumn break however, Itoje had started eight of Saracens’ first nine matches of the season, on the back of playing 34 games last term, including all three British & Irish Lions Tests.
Saracens currently top their Champions Cup pool following bonus points wins against Northampton and the Ospreys but Clermont are a point behind having also won their first two matches.