AND lock Courtney Lawes has been ruled out of the entire Six Nations campaign as a result of the knee ligament injury he suffered playing for Northampton against Leicester last Saturday.
The 21-year-old’s performances across the autumn campaign cemented his place in the plans of England manager Martin Johnson, who will make a choice between Louis Deacon, Simon Shaw and, potentially, his former captain Steve Borthwick to fill the void left by the Northampton forward.
Johnson is also sweating on the fitness of wing Chris Ashton, who suffered a quad injury, also against Leicester, while Johnson must also contemplate Tom Croft’s replacement as the Leicester man is a major doubt for the tournament with a fractured shoulder blade.
Meanwhile, former Australia coach Eddie Jones has ruled himself out of the running for the Rugby Football Union’s new role of performance director and backed World Cup-winning South African Jake White for the job instead.
Jones, White and ex-England coach Sir Clive Woodward were immediately installed as the favourites for the post when it was announced last week – a move that saw Rob Andrew’s position as elite director scrapped.