(Reuters) - England lock George Kruis has been ruled out of the November internationals against Japan and Australia due to a calf injury, the Rugby Football Union said on Tuesday.
The injury-plagued Saracens second row was replaced by Charlie Ewels in the 66th minute in the 16-15 defeat by New Zealand at Twickenham last weekend, limping heavily as he left the field.
In his absence and with Joe Launchbury also missing, Maro Itoje is expected to line up alongside Courtney Lawes or Ewels against Japan, who are playing England at Twickenham for the first time.
Coach Eddie Jones retained a group of 30 players on Tuesday, including uncapped quartet Ted Hill, Nick Schonert, Elliott Stooke and Joe Cokanasiga, but there was again no place for fullback Mike Brown.
The Australian, who led Japan to their famous win over South Africa in the 2015 World Cup, said he was joking around when he said on Saturday that England were out to physically smash his former team.
“I love Japan, love the players, I was just having a bit of fun,” said Jones, whose mother is Japanese/American.
“But it’s potentially a difficult game for us and we have to have the right mindset and that’s to smash the Japanese.”
Jones said that Manu Tuilagi was still at “99.9 percent, just hasn’t got that top speed yet” and was unlikely to be involved.
He said he would check later on Tuesday on the thumb injury that forced co-captain Dylan Hartley off at halftime against New Zealand.
“He couldn’t grip the scrum properly in the first half,” Jones explained. “We would probably have kept him on a bit longer.”
Japan coach Jamie Joseph, who also names his team on Thursday and is without some key players, recognised that they faced the stiffest of physical tests.
“I’m not sure we can run away from the big boys. One to 15 they are pretty big compared to our blokes,” said the former All Black flanker.
“Rugby is pretty simple — you have got to create momentum from set pieces and that is our first challenge and we are working on that.
“When we can do that we can score tries and we did that against the All Blacks and we have done it against tier-one teams, France and Wales.
“But we are playing at Twickenham and the players are going to experience a different style. The game in England is very different to other parts of the world.”
Forwards: Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby), Jamie George (Saracens), Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints), Alec Hepburn (Exeter Chiefs), Ted Hill (Worcester Warriors), Maro Itoje (Saracens), Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints), Zach Mercer (Bath Rugby), Ben Moon (Exeter Chiefs), Nick Schonert (Worcester Warriors), Brad Shields (Wasps), Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins), Elliott Stooke (Bath Rugby), Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby), Harry Williams (Exeter Chiefs), Mark Wilson (Newcastle Falcons).
Backs: Chris Ashton (Sale Sharks), Joe Cokanasiga (Bath Rugby), Danny Care (Harlequins), Elliot Daly (Wasps), Owen Farrell (Saracens), George Ford (Leicester Tigers), Alex Lozowski (Saracens), Jonny May (Leicester Tigers), Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs), Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs), Ben Te’o (Worcester Warriors), Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers), Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers).
Additional reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Toby Davis