Chris Robshaw could make his first start at openside under Eddie Jones after Sam Underhill was ruled out of England’s Test against Samoa on Saturday.
Underhill has been stood down from the climax to the autumn programme at Twickenham after departing the 30-6 victory over Australia in the opening quarter due to concussion.
With Tom Curry unavailable because of a wrist injury, England’s options have dwindled to Robshaw, Maro Itoje, and Sam Simmonds.
Robshaw filled the position throughout the reign of Stuart Lancaster, but Jones has viewed him exclusively as a blindside flanker having stated in a newspaper column during the 2015 Word Cup that he is a “six-and-a-half at best”.
“Robshaw might get the 6-and-a-half jersey out again!” said Jones, when asked who his options at seven are following Underhill’s concussion.
“We can roll that out, or we can play Maro there. We can experiment with it because in the World Cup we might have to do that. It’s a great opportunity for us.
“Sam did well against Australia. He certainly comes into consideration. I was really impressed with him.”
Rather than undergo the return-to-play protocols for concussion, Underhill has been immediately removed from contention for the Samoans’ visit to Twickenham.
Underhill, the big-hitting Bath openside, took the blow to the head while attempting to tackle number eight Sean McMahon.
“Sam won’t be available. We’ve taken a step where we just feel he needs a rest this week,” said Jones, who revealed that full-back Mike Brown is highly likely to be available against Samoa after winning his own battle against concussion.
“That was his second concussion this season so we’ve taken the view that we won’t risk him this weekend.”
Financially stricken Samoa are comfortably the weakest opposition of the autumn and Jones insists as much as possible must be done to protect the Pacific nations.
“It’s important to keep island rugby strong because they bring a uniqueness to the game,” Jones said.
“They’ve got these fantastic natural skills that, when galvanised together, produce a game no-one else can play. I’m glad we’re playing Samoa. It’s going to help Samoan rugby.
“Traditionally Samoans have always wanted to hit hard. I don’t know where they’ve got those genes from, but just look around the world at how many good Samoan players there are.
“It’s quite freakish that Samoa and Tonga produce so many good players.”
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