In a final twist to their injury-plagued build-up, England’s hopes for the 2024 Guinness Six Nations opener against Italy took a hit as Ellis Genge was ruled out just hours before kick-off in Rome.
Steve Borthwick’s squad, already grappling with a string of injuries, faced yet another setback as Genge, slated to provide backup to starting loosehead Joe Marler, succumbed to a foot injury. The dynamic prop’s absence sees Beno Obano stepping into the No17 jersey for the clash at the Stadio Olimpico.
While initial reports suggest that Genge’s injury is not severe, his unavailability for the Italy match raises concerns about England’s front-row depth. However, there is optimism within the camp that Genge could return for the second-round showdown against Wales in London.
The eleventh-hour change thrusts Obano into the spotlight, marking his first Test appearance in nearly three years. The Bath prop, last capped during the 2021 Summer Series, now faces the opportunity to make his mark on the international stage once again.
England’s injury woes have been a recurring theme throughout their Six Nations preparations. Even before their warm-weather training camp in Girona, the squad grappled with setbacks, with Ollie Lawrence, Oscar Beard, and Luke Cowan-Dickie sidelined. Their absence paved the way for Max Ojomoh, Will Muir, and Jamie Blamire to step up.
The tumult continued with Nick Isiekwe’s illness, leading to Charlie Ewels’ inclusion, followed by Marcus Smith’s untimely calf injury during training. Smith’s return to England for further evaluation underscores the challenges facing Borthwick’s side as they navigate the rigorous demands of the championship.
As England braces for their Six Nations opener, the resilience of their squad will be put to the test once again. With Genge sidelined and uncertainties looming, the team must rally together to overcome adversity and set the stage for a promising campaign ahead.