Jack Willis was stretchered from the Twickenham Stadium turf just minutes after scoring his second international try.
The Wasps flanker had arrived as a second-half substitute against Italy with 21 minutes remaining and drove over for England’s fifth try of the afternoon from close range.
But shortly afterwards, the 24-year-old was competing for the ball at the breakdown when he was rolled away from the the collision area by Sebastian Negri.
He let out a loud yelp and was laid out on the pitch for more than seven minutes before being replaced.
The injury appeared to be to his left knee. Back in 2018, Willis suffered an ACL rupture to his right knee having been selected for his first England tour that summer.
He would miss the majority of the 2018/19 season after undergoing knee and ankle operations.
But the forward would return with a bang in the 2019/20 campaign, inspiring Wasps to reach the Gallagher Premiership final with his breakdown work and tryscoring proving to be key assets to his side.
His performances earned him the Premiership’s player of the season accolade and the Land Rover Discovery of the Season accolade. These followed the RPA players’ player of the year honour that was also awarded to the all-action Wasp.
Willis finally earned his first England cap during the Autumn Nations Cup win over Georgia, when he registered a maiden Test try. Another cap followed against Wales before he was selected in England’s squad for the Six Nations.
Former Wasps captain Lawrence Dallaglio said post-match: “This is horrific, it’s terrible news for Wasps, terrible for Jack, terrible for England fans. This is his secret weapon [breakdown jackal], Sebastian Negri, it’s a reckless tackle. He’s done nothing wrong, to crocodile roll a player off and twist him. You’re always going to run the risk of injury. If that was around the neck, it would be illegal.”