Hughes injury leaves England with No 8 worry

London (AFP) –


England were left with a fitness question mark over Nathan Hughes after the Wasps No 8 suffered a dead leg in a 25-9 Premiership defeat by Bath on Sunday.

Hughes left the field at Wasps' Ricoh Arena ground in Coventry after Anthony Watson's knee made contact with his knee during an aerial challenge.

The England back-row forward tried to run the injury off but to no avail.

Hughes should be back soon but England will be anxious for him to regain full fitness quickly as he is in line to replace first-choice No 8 Billy Vunipola for the upcoming end-of-year internationals against Argentina, Australia and Samoa after the Saracens star was ruled out January at the earliest following knee surgery.

"Nathan had quite a bad dead leg," said Wasps director of rugby Dai Young.

"Hopefully he will recover by next week, but we don't know," the former Wales and British and Irish Lions front-row forward added after a third straight defeat took some of the shine off the club's 150th anniversary celebrations.

"We've said before it will only be one week and it ends up being longer.

"We said that with Danny Cipriani -- one week to 10 days when it was three months, so what do I know?

"It's a bit early to tell, but he's certainly not looking at knee instability or anything like that, it's purely a dead leg. Nathan's a big player for us."

Bath ensured a two-match losing streak did not become more severe after Semesa Rokoduguni's late try rewarded a strong defensive effort against Wasps, last season's beaten Premiership finalists.

"We made tackle after tackle and we had to do that," said Bath director of rugby Todd Blackadder. "We kept ourselves in the right and I thought it was good.

"There are a lot of things we can get better at though and this was a real arm wrestle," the former New Zealand international added.

- Sinckler citing -

Meanwhile England prop Kyle Sinckler has been cited for an alleged eye-gouging incident in Harlequins' Premiership defeat at Northampton on Saturday.

Sinckler was accused of the offence by Michael Paterson following an incident that took place in the 49th minute, but referee Luke Pearce decided replay footage was inconclusive and awarded a penalty only for removing the Saints lock's scrum cap.

The "entry-level" sanction if Sinckler for making contact with the eye and/or eye area is a 12-week suspension, which would threaten the fiery Lions tighthead's involvement in the November Tests.

Sinckler will appear before a Rugby Football Union disciplinary panel in Bristol on Tuesday.

Replays on the screens at Franklin's Gardens were inconclusive, except to show Pearce's scrum-cap being removed after the New Zealand-born forward had told the referee he had "100 percent" been the victim of eye-gouging, long regarded as one of rugby union's most serious offences.

But Sinckler, arrested by Auckland police for a minor offence after the final Lions Test against New Zealand in July, denied any wrongdoing and was backed by Harlequins' director of rugby John Kingston.

"Unequivocally, it was not a gouge. Absolutely not," Kingston said.

"Kyle said he made contact with Paterson's head gear. He can't do that. There was a purge on it a couple of years ago because it's the sort of thing that cheeses people off, so leave headgear alone."