More woe for 'unlucky' Simpson-Daniel
October 24, 2008
Simpson-Daniel's career has been blighted by injury © Getty Images
England doctor Mike Bundy last night put James Simpson-Daniel's injury nightmare down to simple rotten luck.
The electric Gloucester winger is out for three months with damaged ankle ligaments that require surgery and will force him to miss England's November internationals. With a projected recovery time of 12 weeks, Simpson-Daniel will also struggle to be fit in time to start the RBS 6 Nations campaign.
It is the latest in a catalogue of injuries and illnesses that have dogged Simpson-Daniel throughout his international career and limited him to just 10 caps in six years. To put that into context, Josh Lewsey had six caps when he broke into the England team in 2003. Now he has 55.
Simpson-Daniel has suffered calf, ankle and shoulder injuries while he has also suffered glandular fever and developed a dangerous blood clot after receiving a dead leg in training. Former England head coach Brian Ashton did not consider Simpson-Daniel for the World Cup because he felt the winger, while a prolific try-scorer, was "too fragile".
Debate rages over the likes of Simpson-Daniel and Jonny Wilkinson, about whether there is anything that links a raft of seemingly unconnected injuries. There is, but, according to Bundy, it is out of man's control.
"Some people are just particularly unlucky," he said. "Some people are prone to more injuries than others."
England have begun an extensive programme of medical profiling, designed to aid both 'pre-hab' and re-hab. The idea is to identify potential weak areas in a player's physique and address them before they become a problem. England's elite players are also providing data on all areas of their body while fully fit so the medics can better judge the recovery process.
None of that would have helped Simpson-Daniel on Sunday when he suffered an isolated rupture in his right ankle that will keep him sidelined until the new year. England team manager Martin Johnson will decide on a replacement today.
He said: "On behalf of the squad my thoughts are with James. The coaching and medical teams from Gloucester and England will be in regular contact with him during his recovery and rehabilitation."
Harlequins winger David Strettle may have been next on the list to replace Simpson-Daniel but he is recovering from a a broken metatarsal. Johnson's other wing options in the England Saxons are Topsy Ojo, who made his Test debut in New Zealand during the summer, Ugo Monye and Matt Banahan while Mike Brown could provide additional full-back cover.
England may turn to Simpson-Daniel's Gloucester team-mate Olly Morgan or Sale winger Mark Cueto, who could both technically be fast-tracked from outside the England fold into the senior squad. England are also monitoring the fitness of Sale full-back Mathew Tait and Gloucester number eight Luke Narraway, who have both suffered hamstring injuries.
They open their autumn schedule against the Pacific Islands at Twickenham on November 8 before tackling Australia, South Africa and New Zealand.