England’s preparation for the upcoming Rugby World Cup has taken a second blow with the suspension of their first-choice No.8, Billy Vunipola.
Vunipola was suspended following an incident in the course of the Summer Nations Series fixture towards Ireland in Dublin over the weekend, the place he was proven a yellow card for a harmful deal with on loosehead Andrew Porter. It was subsequently upgraded to a crimson card upon video evaluate.
The suspension has meant he will likely be unavailable for England’s crucial opening World Cup conflict towards Argentina, leaving head coach Steve Borthwick with a call to make.
With Vunipola set to miss the opening match, consideration has now shifted to potential replacements, and a transparent frontrunner has emerged.
Sale Sharks’ versatile unfastened ahead, Tom Curry, is the bookies’ most well-liked candidate to step into Vunipola’s footwear as England’s beginning No.8 aginst Argentina. William Hill have Curry listed because the main contender at odds of 5/4. His means to transition between openside flanker and No.8 prior to now has undoubtedly put him in a powerful place to fill the void left by Vunipola’s suspension.
While Curry leads the pack, different contenders are vying for the spot. Ben Earl, Vunipola’s membership teammate, is listed at 2/1, though it could imply England’s pack shedding about 28kg of mass. The betting odds additionally embrace Lewis Ludlam and Tom Willis, each at 5/1.
Interestingly Zach Mercer, who was minimize by Borthwick final month, is listed at 6/1, the identical as Harlequins’ Alex Dombrandt, as a possible candidate to replace Vuniopla within the beginning line-up.
Callum Chick is listed at 7/1, whereas British & Irish Lions and former Exeter Chiefs No.8 Sam Simmonds is an extended shot at 16/1. Simmonds is at the moment settling into life at Montpellier, so gained’t have to go far if he does get a shock call-up from Borthwick subsequent month.