Six Nations: England will miss Mako Vunipola's 'significant leadership'

Mako Vunipola
Vunipola suffered ankle ligament damage in England's 44-8 win over France at Twickenham

England will miss injured prop Mako Vunipola's "significant leadership and presence" and "phenomenal work-rate", says forwards coach Steve Borthwick.

The influential Vunipola has been ruled out of the rest of the Six Nations after damaging ankle ligaments in the big win against France.

Borthwick believes England have the strength in depth to cope, but admits the Saracen's absence leaves a hole.

"He's an exceptional player. He's been playing really well," said Borthwick.

"The leadership he gives, the presence he has, and the effect he has on those around him - that's incredibly significant.

"The fundamentals of his game - scrum, his work in the tight, his mauling work, his line-out work, his set-piece work - are exceptional, and on top of that he is making 20-odd tackles a game and carrying the ball 15 times.

"His work-rate is absolutely phenomenal and we are fortunate to have a player of his calibre.

"It's a big loss and I'm really disappointed for him and disappointed for the team, but we have a lot of strength in depth in that position."

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Six Nations 2019: England demolish France 44-8 at Twickenham - highlights

Ellis Genge and Ben Moon are set to deputise for Vunipola, although Genge has provided the England management with a scare after picking up an ankle knock in Thursday's training session.

"I am looking forward to seeing how these guys take their opportunity," Borthwick added.

"Ben Moon and Ellis Genge have some real strengths as well. We have seen that before in an England shirt, and I'm looking forward to seeing that again.

"To lose a player like Mako, but to have two players of that standard, is a pretty good position [to be in]."

Meanwhile, hooker Dylan Hartley and lock Maro Itoje are "progressing well" after their knee injuries, with both targeting a return towards the end of the tournament.

Itoje is not expected to be available for the match with Wales next weekend, although he has not yet been ruled out, with England's medical team working around the clock with the talismanic forward.

"Maro is going well and is leaving no stone unturned to get back as quickly as possible," Borthwick said.

"We are talking about [him being fit for] the latter stage of the tournament, but we will monitor his injury on a daily basis.

"We have an excellent medical and strength-and-conditioning team working every hour with him."

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