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Lawes pulls out of England squad while crisis brews at hooker

Courtney Lawes (r) - PA

Courtney Lawes’ involvement in the Guinness Six Nations has been plunged into doubt because of the calf injury sustained on club duty for Northampton on Saturday.


Lawes has withdrawn from the squad that was due to begin preparations for the opener against Scotland, placing his involvement in the Calcutta Cup clash on February 4 in major doubt.

It is another blow for the 33-year-old flanker who missed the autumn because of concussion before his comeback in a heavily disrupted season was further undermined by a glute issue.

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A crisis is brewing at hooker after George McGuigan became the latest player in the position to withdraw from Steve Borthwick’s 36-man squad.

England had already lost Luke Cowan-Dickie to an ankle injury for at least the start of the Six Nations and on Saturday saw a question mark placed over Jamie George after he was concussed during Saracens’ defeat by Edinburgh on Sunday.

It meant McGuigan and Jack Walker, who are both uncapped, were the only fit hookers left in the squad but the Rugby Football Union has now announced that McGuigan has pulled out because of a knee problem.

Tom Dunn of Bath and Northampton’s David Ribbans will plug the gaps created in the squad as the clock ticks down towards Borthwick’s first game in charge.


Borthwick revealed at the Six Nations launch in central London that neither Lawes nor McGuigan have been ruled out against Scotland at this stage.


The forwards will undergo scans today and see specialists “as soon as possible” to determine the severity of the injury.

“Both are definitely out of training this week. Clearly neither injury looked good but we’ll get the facts and then make a plan,” Borthwick said.

George, meanwhile, will begin the return to play protocols for concussion, threatening his involvement against Scotland.


“Jamie was good after the game and now follows the protocols. It can be 12 days. You have to assess what are symptoms and non-symptoms,” Borthwick said.


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Jon 6 hours ago
British & Irish Lions free agent open to Super Rugby switch

There are a couple of teams who could use a stop gap experienced head. Blues - I’m not sure the Blues have signed a replacement for Caleb Tangitau (if he hasn’t been let go to make room for Barrett) yet, or whether Reiko is going on sabbatical and/or will remain in the squad. With exciting young French player Xavi Taele looking destined for higher honors in black, talented breakthrough rookie Cory Evan’s, and a couple of utilities, in AJ Lam and Bryce Heem(even Clarke?), all trying to learn the midfield trade, Williams could be a great aid. The Blues signed key English center Joe Marchant before he was raised to that level, and were possibly in the hunt to bring back the dependable Tele’a from the Highlanders. Possible the main squeeze which would put to bed any signing here would be the battle at 10 with Beauden’s return, and the forcing of Plummer back into the midfield. Hurricanes - Jordie Barrett is off to Leinster for a sabbatical next year but the more likely signing would be Billy’s brother back in the team. The Hurricanes are light on the outside with the loss of Salesi Rayasi to the Top 14 and if no quality is found to back up Kini Naholo, the midfield of Sullivan or Proctors could find themselves on the wing and space for a leader to show the Hurricanes three All Black midfield hopefuls (Higgins, Proctor, Umaga-Jensen) how its done. Highlanders - Rotation is high as usual at the Highlanders and versatility remains a strength with a lot of the squad. With compatriot Rhys Patchell signing a move to the JRLO, the passing of outside back Connor Garden-Bachop, and confirmed departure of Argentine wing Martin Bogado, the versatility of many of the young backups in the squad could see a veteran 12 like Williams being a strong partner for the robust Tele’a. With hope that the other Umaga-Jensen brother can force him out of the starting lineup, and shifting the sides general Sam Gilbert back into 10, the off-contract midfielder might seen as the perfect option for a squad still looking to fill one back spot.

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