London - England number eight Billy Vunipola faces a race to
recover in time for the Six Nations after being ruled out for at least three
months on Sunday following knee surgery.
The Saracens forward, 24, tore cartilage in his knee during
the first half of England's 27-14 victory over Argentina at Twickenham on
Saturday and was taken off the pitch on a medical cart.
Defending champions England launch their Six Nations title
defence against France at Twickenham on February 4 and play their final game
against Ireland in Dublin on March 18.
"Billy's been absolutely fantastic for England over the
last 11 months and we wish him a quick recovery," said England head coach
Eddie Jones, whose side close the year against Australia next weekend.
"He's a very influential player in the set-up and
there's no doubt he'll be missed for the game against Australia. But where
there is an injury, there's an opportunity for someone else.
"We've had five or six front line players missing
throughout the series, so I've no doubt we'll adapt and work that little bit
harder this week.
"I'm sure the players will respond to this by going up
a level and peak for this game."
Vunipola's absence will also be felt by Premiership leaders
Saracens, who resume their defence of the European Champions Cup next month.