England's Willis vows to 'come back stronger' after Italy injury

London (AFP) –


England flanker Jack Willis has vowed to "come back a better and stronger" player following the sickening knee injury he suffered against Italy.

Wasps, the back-row forward's club, have confirmed Willis is facing a "long time out" after a scan revealed extensive damage to his left leg as a result of being pulled out of a ruck during England's 41-18 Six Nations win at Twickenham on Saturday.

Neither club nor player has yet made any statement about how long Willis, whose career has been blighted by injuries, will be out.

But the 24-year-old, who only four minutes before his latest setback had scored the fifth of England's six tries against the Azzurri after coming on as a replacement, told his Twitter followers on Monday he would be back in action.

"The highs and lows of Rugby... I have loved every second of training and playing in an England shirt and it has been a dream come true to be involved in such a great group of lads and coaches," Willis said.

"I'm truly gutted with the way it ended on Saturday but these things happen," he added following a third Test cap since his England debut in November.

"I will give everything I can to my rehab to come back a better and stronger player. Thank you so much for all the messages and support I've received it really is appreciated. I will be back."

Howls of agony from the 24-year-old turnover specialist were clearly audible as his left knee buckled under challenge from Italy flanker Sebastian Negri in a match played behind closed doors because of Covid-19 restrictions.

Negri appeared to be performing a move known as a 'crocodile roll', used to twist a player from a ruck, an action which is allowed in rugby union so long as it does not involve a tackle around the neck.

"It sounds like he has done quite a few things with his knee," Wasps coach Lee Blackett said of Willis.

"It's pretty serious, but it looks like he has not done his ACL (anterior cruciate ligament). He will spend a long time out, I should imagine."

Willis was included in England's squad for their 2018 tour to South Africa but withdrew because of a right knee injury before his career was interrupted by ankle problems.