Alex Walmsley World Cup injury blow is huge for England, says St Helens boss Kristian Woolf
KRISTIAN Woolf believes England have been robbed of one of the best after Alex Walmsley was ruled out of the World Cup with a foot injury.
It was initially thought the St Helens prop would only be out for the short term.
But further scans revealed a much more serious problem, with a high chance of it happening again because of its position, which SunSport understands is not a break.
And it is believed the 32-year-old will need three months to recover.
England boss Shaun Wane is already without hooker Josh Hodgson while James Roby did not reverse his international retirement.
Luke Thompson, Tom Burgess and Mikolaj Oledzki are likely to be three of his props at the home tournament.
But Walmsley’s injury leaves a chance for Canberra’s Ryan Sutton, someone like Huddersfield’s Chris Hill – who played in the 2017 World Cup – or a wild card like Salford’s Jack Ormondroyd.
As well as the World Cup, Walmsley will miss Saturday’s Super League semi-final with Salford – which England centre Mark Percival returns for – and, if St Helens win, the Grand Final.
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That left devastated club boss Woolf, who took his team to St George’s Park on their week off, saying: “It’s a big blow. He’s very disappointed, you could see that in his body language.
“The fact is he’s the best prop in Super League, no-one could or would argue about that and it’s a real shame he doesn’t play in the World Cup.
“He’ll miss the chance to play against Australia, Tonga and Samoa, who have outstanding packs, and show what he’s capable of.
“I’ve no doubt whatsoever Alex would be successful in the NRL. What showed that was the battle with Jared Waerea-Hargreaves in 2019’s World Club Challenge.
“When I coached Tonga against Great Britain that year, we were all over them for the first 30 minutes and stood over their pack quite well.
“Al and one of the Burgess brothers came on and changed the momentum of the game in Great Britain’s favour. That was against a pack containing several of the world’s best.
“What’s he’s been able to do in big games on such a consistent basis is what makes players elite.
“But while he’s extremely disappointed. He’s a resilient bloke, who’ll come through it and be a better player next year.”
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