England scrum coach Neal Hatley calls on forwards to raise game for bruising encounter with Wales to make up for absence of Mako Vunipola
- Mako Vunipola is out for 10 weeks with injury and misses rest of Six Nations
- His loss is huge blow for England but Ellis Genge and Ben Moon will fill void
- Scrum coach Neal Hatley wants forwards to ensure Vunipola is not missed
England’s scrum coach has called on his forwards to raise their game against Wales to make up for the loss of Mako Vunipola.
The Saracens loosehead is out of the rest of the Six Nations tournament with ankle ligament damage, leaving Ellis Genge and Ben Moon fighting it out for the No 1 shirt at the Principality Stadium next Saturday.
‘You don’t really replace someone like Mako, but it is an opportunity for Ben Moon and Ellis Genge,’ said Neal Hatley.
The likes of Ellis Genge will have to step up for the game against Wales, says Neal Hatley
The loosehead prop is out of action for the remainder of the Six Nations this year
‘Losing someone like Mako, all the other players are going to have to find another three or four per cent but we have full confidence in both Ben and Ellis.’
Hatley is sure that Genge, who took a full part in training on Friday despite limping out of a session on Thursday, will not be riled by the Welsh, who know he doesn’t have the longest fuse in the pack.
‘If you look at him and Kyle Sinkler from 2016 to where they are now it is chalk and cheese,’ Hatley said. ‘We want him to be on the edge, aggressive — that’s how the game is played.
‘Both of them have a good understanding of what the team needs in terms of discipline. They’ve improved massively in that area.’
England scrum coach Hatley says the likes of Kyle Sinckler have developed rapidly
Meanwhile, Leigh Halfpenny will not play against England as his return to competitive action after concussion problems has been delayed again.
The 30-year-old full-back was not selected for his regional side the Scarlets for today’s match against Benetton in the Pro 14 and Sportsmail understands he is not ready for full-blooded action in the potential Championship decider either.
This withdrawal from club duty seems to rule out Halfpenny playing in Cardiff even though recently he has been fit enough to train, but he is not at a stage where he is ready to start a match.
It is believed Wales want to see him come through a game unscathed before they throw him back into an international after such a long time out.
Wales are waiting on Leigh Halfpenny’s recover from a number of concussion problems
Halfpenny has not played since November 10 when he was knocked out by a late tackle from Samu Kerevi in the Australia Test.
Halfpenny then attempted to return for the Scarlets on December 29, and was named in their side to face Cardiff Blues but pulled out late after a reoccurrence of concussion symptoms.
Josh Adams, Liam Williams and George North now look most likely to form the Welsh back-three for the England game.
Adams will start on the wing for Worcester against Harlequins in the Premiership, but Williams was not picked by Saracens for their game against Leicester.
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