MARO ITOJE has given Eddie Jones a Six Nations scare after picking up a cracked kneecap on England duty.
Saracens say their star lock will be out for "a number of weeks" after suffering a knee injury during the final autumn Test week.
PA:Press Association3 Maro Itoje may be out of the Six Nations with a knee injury
Lions hero Itoje played on for two games, the Red Rose’s triumph over Australia and then Saracens’ Premiership victory over Wasps last weekend, before he could carry on no more.
It is a blow for Sarries, who face Cardiff Blues in the Champions Cup tomorrow.
Itoje will be monitored over the coming weeks but, for now, both club and country feel there is no need for surgery.
With England’s Six Nations kicking off on February 2 against Ireland, there is still eight weeks for him to get fit for Dublin.
AP:Associated Press3 Eddie Jones may be without his star forward for the tournament
Itoje, 24, is central to boss Jones’ plans as England battle to recover from last time’s fifth place — their worst Six Nations ever.
Some recovery time also means that Itoje can concentrate on nailing down a new Sarries contract, which ends in 2019.
He has been billed as the Premiership’s first £1million player — but that figure would include all his commercial deals.
There have been offers from France yet Itoje knows that would end his England career.
PA:Press Association3 Maro Itoje played through the pain for two games before giving in
MOST READ IN RUGBY UNIONRED RISE 6 Nations 2017: England fixtures, who is in the squad, who is the captain and who are the new faces? A QUESTION OF MATT The lowdown on Matt Dawson – plus his toddler's battle with meningitis TV TIMES England vs South Africa: Live stream, TV channel, kick-off time and team news Black out How to watch All or Nothing: New Zealand All Blacks for FREE Graphic Warningbattle scar Leicester hardman Guy Thompson’s gruesome leg gash will make you feel queasy
Having already won 26 caps, he is billed as a future Red Rose skipper.
Nick Isiekwe could now fill Itoje’s boots for Saracens — and possibly England.