Injured Kruis facing uncertain future
INJURY UPDATE: England have still to discover just how long George Kruis will be out of action after the lock decided to seek a second opinion regarding a knee injury.
The Saracens second row has definitely been ruled out of Grand Slam champions England's opening match of the Six Nations against France at Twickenham on Saturday.
Kruis sustained ligament damage during an England training session on Tuesday and the team have not given up hope of their main line-out caller featuring later in the Six Nations.
But having already seen one specialist, Kruis is now set to see another.
"George will have some more assessments. We are hoping we'll know more in the next two or three days," England scrum coach Neal Hatley told reporters at Twickenham on Friday.
"We'll probably know a lot more after the assessment. We haven't given up on having him involved at some stage during the latter part of the Six Nations.
"We want to see what the options are moving forward. It will be the best outcome for the player, what George needs to get George right and back playing."
Joe Launchbury, an experienced lock, will be alongside Courtney Lawes in the England second row on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Maro Itoje, Kruis's regular lock partner for Saracens and England, has been moved to blindside flank after former England captain Chris Robshaw was ruled out of the entire Six Nations because of a shoulder injury.
Itoje, who missed England's 2016 end of year campaign with a hand injury, does have some experience of loose forward play but this will be his first Test start in the back row.
"Maro brings so much energy to the side and has played blindside flank before - we used him there in Australia, so it's not like he's new to the position," Hatley said.
"He walked through things with [defence coach] Paul Gustard this week and if you have watched Maro at any level he brings ridiculous enthusiasm to the team and we can't wait to see him there.
"He has heaps of potential and if you have a player with the mindset to get better every day then the world's his oyster."