Six Nations
Brown doubtful for Ireland clash after setback
Tom Hamilton
February 23, 2015
Mike Brown is a doubt for Sunday's match in Dublin © Getty Images

The chances of Mike Brown being fit in time for Sunday's match against Ireland look increasingly slim with Alex Goode poised to start in Dublin.

Brown was rested last week after picking up a knock to the head in the opening stages of England's win over Italy in round two of the Six Nations. He started the return-to-play protocols last week, necessary when a head knock is suffered, but showed concussion symptoms on Friday which meant he had to go back to the start of the six-day protocols.

"Mike is going through the [return-to-play] process now," Lancaster said. "He was symptom free and then he did the bike on Friday and there were some symptoms after that, so he has had to step down again.

"He's had a rest over the weekend and has started the return to process again as of today. So today [Monday] has been bike, with tomorrow running and ball skills. Non-contact rugby on Wednesday, non-contact rugby Thursday and if all that is fine he's potentially good to go to train on Friday."

The Graduated Return to Play Protocols

  • 1. Minimum rest
  • 2. Light aerobic exercise
  • 3. Sport-specific exercise
  • 4. Non-contact training drills
  • 5. Full contact practice
  • 6. Return to play

Due to the EPS agreement, Lancaster has to release players outside of the matchday squad for the weekend's match on Tuesday. Given the match is in Dublin, Lancaster is permitted to keep an extra two in the squad so Brown may be retained on Tuesday evening but the situation is hardly ideal for England with the coaches' selection meeting occurring on Monday evening.

"I've got to be 100% certain that he's right with the type of knock it was and also to go in the size of game that this is," Lancaster said. "The reality is he won't have trained from the game to potentially this Friday which is 13 days. You have to have the team ready to play. On Mike's behalf I want to be 110% certain he's right.

"A lot will depend on how the next 24 hours go but it will have to be made within the next two days I'd say because the team need a chance to prepare with all the pieces in place. We could leave it until Friday because we don't name the team until then - that's the very latest - but as a coach going into Tuesday and Wednesday you want to be reasonably certain what the team is going to be.

"It will be a judgement call based on a medical call."

Lancaster added: "I think hypothetically it's going to be very early for me to pencil him in for a game at the moment."

If Brown fails to recover in time for Sunday, Goode is the favourite to stand in at fullback but Chris Pennell was called into the squad to train on Tuesday. Goode's last Test start came in March 2013 and Lancaster would be comfortable to slot him straight into the starting XV if needed.

"He's [Goode] been unlucky in the sense that the standout player in the Six Nations last year was Mike Brown in his position. He's had to wait patiently for his chance again.

"He's a different type of player to Mike in that he's equally good under the high ball, he's very good as a positional fullback, he can play fly-half (he did at the weekend when Charlie pulled out at the last minute), so he offers that slightly different kicking option, but also the opportunity to be a first receiver/playmaker.

"He's certainly confident and he feels he's ready, should his opportunity come, and having played in big games last year for us in the Six Nations last year I think he'd be ready to take his chance."

Rob Webber has also been added as Tom Youngs is likely to be rested on Tuesday but Geoff Parling, Courtney Lawes and Tom Wood are expected to train.

England training squad - Forwards: Dave Attwood (Bath Rugby), Kieran Brookes (Newcastle Falcons), Calum Clark (Northampton Saints), Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers), Alex Corbisiero (Northampton Saints), Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers), Nick Easter (Harlequins),Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints), James Haskell (Wasps) George Kruis (Saracens), Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints), Joe Marler (Harlequins), Geoff Parling (Leicester Tigers), Chris Robshaw (captain, Harlequins), Mako Vunipola (Saracens), Billy Vunipola (Saracens), Rob Webber (Bath Rugby), Tom Wood (Northampton Saints), Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers)

Backs: Brad Barritt (Saracens), Mike Brown (Harlequins), Luther Burrell (Northampton Saints), Danny Care (Harlequins), Danny Cipriani (Sale Sharks), Kyle Eastmond (Bath Rugby), George Ford (Bath Rugby), Alex Goode (Saracens), Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby), Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby), Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs), Chris Pennell (Worcester Warriors), Manusamoa Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers), Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby), Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby), Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
Tom Hamilton is the Associate Editor of ESPNscrum.

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