England wing Immanuel Feyi-Waboso has prioritised his health over the prospect of facing France after self-reporting symptoms of concussion.

Attack coach Richard Wigglesworth revealed Feyi-Waboso has been ruled out of the climax to the Guinness Six Nations in Lyon after he became “groggy” in the wake of Saturday’s 23-22 victory over Ireland.

Although the 21-year-old Exeter University medical student finished the match, it was only afterwards that he felt the effects of a possible concussion that cannot be traced to any one incident on the field.


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It means England’s breakout star of the Six Nations will be unable to take part in the bid to snatch Ireland’s title a week after setting Twickenham alight with a dynamic display on his first start.

“Manny felt a bit groggy so he is unfortunately ruled out of the game, but we don’t take any risks with that sort of stuff,” Wigglesworth said.

“He’s obviously gutted but being the smart lad he is, he reported his symptoms. He did the right thing.”

England have chosen not to replace Feyi-Waboso in their 36-man training squad, with Elliot Daly likely to take his place on the wing against France.

Cardiff-born Feyi-Waboso was persuaded to pledge his national allegiance to England by Steve Borthwick in January and both player and coach have been rewarded by his dynamic displays, two of them coming off the bench.

“It had been building for Manny. You have to integrate these players carefully and I think Steve did that well in how he exposed him to Test rugby so he was ready to fly,” Wigglesworth said.

“He played really well, got his hands on the ball and did what we asked him to do and brought his talents.

“It’s very disappointing for him as I know how desperate he was to play again and how much he enjoyed his first start.”

England picked themselves up off the canvas after a disappointing defeat by Scotland in round three to end Ireland’s Grand Slam defence when Marcus Smith kicked a last-gasp drop-goal.

Steve Borthwick’s side had been irked by the avalanche of predictions that they would be routed by the favourites, whose former number eight Jamie Heaslip even said their only chance was if Ireland had one or two players sent off.

England back row Ben Earl stated after the win that “apparently we’re the worst England team ever. We’ve done pretty well for that accolade”, but Wigglesworth admits that defiant rage will only take a team so far.

“Every week is different and as a player, a coaching staff and a team, you use different things and you will tap into different emotions,” he said.

“We want to be obsessed with getting better, we want to keep moving on. What is called a disaster, for us is a learning experience so at the end we are moving the dial in the right direction.

“There are emotional buttons the players want to press themselves but at the core is trying to move our game on, trying to get better, having real clarity on what we are going after so we get better.”

England fly-half Marcus Smith is awaiting scan results on a leg injury sustained in training just five days before the Guinness Six Nations’ opener against Italy.

Steve Borthwick’s squad are on a training camp in Girona and the England head coach is scheduled to announce his starting line-up on Thursday.

England’s Six Nations’ hopes would be given a huge blow if Smith is ruled out as fellow fly-half Owen Farrell is ineligible for selection following his move from Saracens to French side Racing 92 last week.

Farrell had already made himself unavailable for this season’s Six Nations in order to focus on his mental well-being and Smith was a leading contender to fill his boots.

Smith left England’s training camp on crutches and headed for a scan after his session had been cut short.

England attack coach Richard Wigglesworth told several national media outlets: “Hopefully it’s very precautionary, but if he is not (available) it would definitely be a blow for us.

“It wasn’t a big incident. He was just jogging, but he pulled up and happened to be right next to a physio by the sideline, so they walked off after that. All the usual stuff (medical assessments) will happen.”

England are ready for scheming from South Africa at the Stade de France on Saturday but believe the World Cup will be decided in other areas.

Springboks boss Rassie Erasmus is accomplished at what Warren Gatland describes as “dark arts”, such as using mind games to give his side an edge, especially through the use of social media to “control the agenda”.

The most recent example is the suggestion that the Springboks used HIAs in their quarter-final victory over France last Sunday to give forwards Duane Vermeulen, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Bongi Mbonambi a rest – a claim denied by Erasmus.

Attack coach Richard Wigglesworth insists England know they will be targeted in the last-four showdown in Paris and even believes that their media output is being monitored closely.

“I’m sure that, with the smarts of their coaching team, they will try to throw stuff at us, no doubt. Will that be the winning and losing of this game? Probably not,” Wigglesworth said.

“It will probably be the big bits of the game that decides that and then they’ll give those little nuances a chance.

“I wouldn’t like to guess what they are going to try and do because I know they will watch and hear everything we say. I wouldn’t like to try and give anyone a head start.”

South Africa are aiming to win their fourth World Cup and enter the second semi-final as overwhelming favourites, while few people are giving England a chance.

“If there is pressure on South Africa, then they’ve shown they can deal with it,” Wigglesworth said.

“They dealt with it at the last World Cup and dealt with it in numerous games. It’s not something that we’ve been clinging on to.

“I’m super-impressed with them as an outfit. They’ve evolved a little bit but without changing their DNA, which we know is incredibly physical with a good kicking game on the back of a rush defence.

“That’s stuff that we’re going to have to deal with, but we also need to make sure that we’re giving them some food for thought.”

Owen Farrell is criticised unfairly and should receive greater acclaim after leading England into the World Cup semi-finals, according to attack coach Richard Wigglesworth.

Farrell vindicated his selection ahead of George Ford at fly-half with a man-of-the-match display in Sunday’s 30-24 victory over Fiji, landing a crucial drop-goal and penalty as part of a 20-point haul.

England’s captain kicked and passed with accuracy throughout and had a hand in Manu Tuilagi’s opening try – all in defiance of the booing that greeted his name being read out on the pre-match tannoy at Stade Velodrome.

The fans’ response was typical of a player who divides opinion, but he was outstanding as England dug themselves out of trouble against Fiji and Wigglesworth feels he does not get the credit he deserves.

“We are lucky to have Owen. As ever, the tallest trees catch the most wind and he seems to catch a fair bit of it,” Wigglesworth said.

“He’s proven time and time and time again and I don’t understand why in England we feel the need to not celebrate that, not enjoy it, just because he’s not sat in front of social media or the media lapping all that up.

“He is incredibly serious abut his career, he is an incredibly proud Englishman. He affects any team he is in and he was brilliant for us – as we knew he would be.

“That was the maddening part of any noise. We knew what was coming from him.”

South Africa await in the last four and enter the rematch of the 2019 final as strong favourites following their monumental victory over France in Paris on Sunday night.

The tournament has lost its magic with the demise of France, Fiji and Ireland, but England will not care as they continue to surpass expectations, progressing as the only unbeaten team.

A fifth appearance in the final appears an unlikely prospect, however, with Wigglesworth aware of the challenge ahead.

“How special is it to be able to beat France, with the form they are in and in their own backyard? That was a special performance from an incredible team,” Wigglesworth said.

“We are probably talking about one of the best rugby teams to ever do it aren’t we? The strength of their game and how they play is well known, but in the last year or so you’ve seen a massive evolution in what they do.

“They’ve started adding things to their game with how they move the ball and how they exit, all different things so they’ve now got more variety.

“They’ve got multiple threats now and that’s probably why they are aiming to be one of the best ever.”

England are hoping to have a clean bill of health against South Africa with players undergoing medical checks on Monday morning.

Marcus Smith could be retained at full-back as England progress deeper into the World Cup after excelling in his first start in the position against Chile.

Smith overcame an edgy opening to help orchestrate an 11-try rout at Stade Pierre-Mauroy, offering the team a new dimension with the ball in hand, which he underscored with a personal two-try haul – albeit against opponents ranked 22 in the world.

England must now decide whether to give him another chance to adapt to 15 in their final group match against Samoa on October 7 or revert to the ultra-dependable Freddie Steward, their first choice in the position for over two years.

Richard Wigglesworth has been a central figure in Smith’s transition from fly-half and the attack coach has seen enough to know the 24-year-old is ready for the bigger tests that lie ahead.

“Marcus has given us food for thought at full-back throughout pre-season because that’s the standard he operates at,” Wigglesworth said.

“It was a bigger talking point than we felt it was because we just see a great rugby player there. We were really impressed by him against Chile.

“We all thought it was coming before the game and were really confident that he was going to produce that sort of performance. He looked great, didn’t he?

“He’s definitely a viable option (to start) because he’s a top, top international, so when you have that level of ability like he’s got, executing the way he is, then he’s always a viable option.”

Whether Smith faces Samoa, reprises the bench role that worked well over the four Tests before Chile were overwhelmed or England perform a positional sleight of hand by squeezing him and Steward into the same back line, one of the game’s most exciting talents has a role to play at the World Cup.

With Owen Farrell and George Ford blocking the path at 10, the Harlequins magician has adjusted quickly after defence coach Kevin Sinfield first raised the prospect of him switching positions during the summer.

“Marcus is a fly-half who can play full-back and what’s so impressive about him is that he has just ripped into that role,” Wigglesworth said.

“He gets training time at both, but he’s ripped into this like, ‘I want to get a shot, I want to have an impact at a World Cup’. And what an attitude for someone to have.

“There hasn’t been a hint of, ‘Oh, this isn’t quite my preferred position or the one that I’ve played and played very successfully for my whole career’.

“He’s not done that, he has just gone, ‘Let me make an impact on this team, on the players around me’. And he has been first class.”

England, who are on the brink of reaching the quarter-finals, have resolved to let Smith forge his own identity in the role.

“We’ve let Marcus do it the Marcus way because, from the first moment he has done it, he has looked pretty comfortable there,” Wigglesworth said.

“He’s done extra high-ball work and understanding the back-field roles in that, and he’s really grabbed that.

“He’s a smart, smart rugby player, so he retains that information and then commands other people around him straight away.

“He’s grabbed it himself and we want Marcus Smith to look like Marcus Smith at full-back, no one else.”

Richard Wigglesworth insists winning trumps entertainment as he ruled out England adopting a ‘Bazball’ approach to take on the world this autumn.

While Ben Stokes’ cricket team have contributed to a thrilling Ashes series against Australia, adhering to the swashbuckling instincts dubbed ‘Bazball’, Wigglesworth believes pragmatism offers England their best chance of success at the World Cup.

Entrusted with overseeing Steve Borthwick’s attack after being recruited from Leicester at the end of the season, the 40-year-old is devising a gameplan that is “tactically flexible”.

“The beauty about rugby is there is loads of different ways to do it. If we all try to play the same way it wouldn’t be entertaining,” former England scrum-half Wigglesworth said.

“We want to be tactically flexible. Does the word entertainment come into my thinking when I am planning? No. It’s about the best way to play. The best way to play and attack will end up being entertaining.

“There are games you have to go and win in a different way and I want us to be able to do that and make sure that when the time is right, we can move the ball as well as anyone.

“We are aiming to have the best plan for the players we’ve got. I’m not going to say: ‘this is how we want to attack.’ What we have to do is match the right personnel on the field with the best attack for them.

“We will attack well. We don’t want to be passive, we want to go and make sure we cause some problems.”

Wigglesworth has been keeping tabs on the Ashes and while England have fallen 2-0 behind entering the third Test on Thursday, he admires a set-up that provides players with freedom.

“It’s funny because they’ve been lauded, then they lose two games in an Ashes series and there are questions. That’s sport and that’s why you have to try to do what you can to win,” Wigglesworth said.

“Hopefully they can turn it around and win three in a row, so they’re back to being lauded again.

“I’m really interested in the environment they’ve got there – where players can go out and express themselves and be happy. That is certainly something that we want to do.

“We want players to enjoy being part of this England squad. We are really conscious of that.

“I’m definitely interested in the Ashes as a spectator, from afar. Maybe with this rose on my chest now, I might be able to visit a few places and pick their brains.

“They’re pretty busy at the moment but I’ll be sending some messages and seeing if I can. There will be many a sport I try and tap into, to try to learn from.”

Wigglesworth is England’s fourth attack coach since the 2019 World Cup but unlike his predecessors Simon Amor, Martin Gleeson and Nick Evans, he brings with him the experience of having being involved in three previous tournaments.

In 2011 and 2015 he was present as a player while in 2019 he was an assistant coach with Canada.

“There’s an overriding sense of disappointment as both 2011 and 2015 didn’t go well,” Wigglesworth said.

“I want to give the players the best chance to experience something positive they’ll remember for the rest of their lives, not look back like I did with a tinge of regret and disappointment. Our job is to help them as much as we can.”

Richard Cockerill will leave his role as England forwards coach after the Six Nations, while Richard Wigglesworth and Aled Walters will join Steve Borthwick's team.

Cockerill stepped in as Red Rose interim head coach after Eddie Jones was sacked in December and retained a role on Borthwick's staff following his appointment as the Australian's successor.

The 52-year-old will be on the move when the Six Nations concludes next month, though, after taking up an offer to become forwards coach of Top 14 side Montpellier.

Borthwick removed Matt Proudfoot and Martin Gleeson from their roles as assistants after he took charge as he started a shake-up, bringing Kevin Sinfield with him from Leicester Tigers.

The England head coach has returned to his former employers once again to recruit Wigglesworth and Walters.

Wigglesworth took over as head coach of the Tigers on a temporary basis following Borthwick's departure for the England job.

The former Red Rose fly-half will become an assistant coach under Borthwick at the end of the season, when Walters will take up his new position of head of strength and conditioning, 

Walters was part of the management team that won the 2019 Rugby World Cup with South Africa and will attempt to help England lift the trophy in France this year.

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