Dan Biggar is set to miss Wales’ clash with England – leaving the champions without a recognised playmaker for Saturday’s Twickenham showdown.
Fly-half Biggar hyper-extended his right knee playing for Northampton against Saracens over the weekend after Wales were obliged to release their Premiership players back to the clubs.
Saints boss Chris Boyd calmed fears about structural damage to the 30-year-old but sources suggest he is highly unlikely to recover in time for Saturday’s showpiece.
That would present a significant problem for Wales, who have already lost fly-half trio Rhys Patchell, Owen Williams and Gareth Anscombe to long-term injury.
Team boss Wayne Pivac will assess his options today, which should not take long as Cardiff Blues fly-half Jarrod Evans – who has never started a Six Nations game – is the only No 10 left in the squad.
The loss of Biggar would hit Wales particularly hard as it was the former Osprey who turned the game Wales’ way in Cardiff a year ago and before that who played a decisive role in England’s 2015 World Cup defeat at Twickenham.
But Sam Underhill, who played club rugby in the Principality before joining Bath, warned that whatever team Pivac brings to London, the occasion and Wales’ fanatical following will ensure a battle royal.
The flanker said: “Whether you’ve lived in Wales or not England v Wales is a game with an extra edge to it. It’s always a pretty passionate occasion occasion for us – and them especially.
“I’ll never be able to know what it really means for the Welsh because I’m English. But you definitely sense there’s a – call it what you want – an edge, an added emotion, a sense of occasion. There’s always more to it.
“From living over there I’ve seen how much it means to them as a nation. I don’t think rugby has got sterile by any stretch of the imagination but I suppose there’s a bit more emotion in a game like this. As a player it’s the game you want to play in.”
Underhill, 23, had the misfortune to watch England lose the World Cup game to Wales in 2015 standing in a Cardiff bar wearing a Barbour.
“To be fair it was full of Cardiff students from Surrey so it wasn’t really the same atmosphere as I’m sure it was in Neath or St Helens!” he added. “But there’s obviously a bit more to the game than just rugby.
“Obviously none of us work at Westminster but it’s important to recognise what the game means to both parties.”
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