LONDON (Reuters) - Versatile England forward Courtney Lawes has been ruled out of the rest of the Six Nations championship after a scan revealed the extent of the damage to a pectoral muscle he injured in training on Wednesday.
Lawes had already been replaced by Mark Wilson at blindside flanker in the team to play Wales on Saturday but the tough-tackling Northampton man will now also miss out on England's remaining games against France and Ireland next month.
"Unfortunately, Courtney picked up a knock and that means he won’t be available for us for the rest of the Six Nations,” attack coach Simon Amor told journalists on Friday.
"Courtney Lawes is an experienced player. He brings a lineout threat and a great defensive energy. But we’ve got some really fantastic players, particularly Mark Wilson who is one of our work-rate players. He can really get around the field and has that energy, particularly around the breakdown.”
It was something of a freak injury for Lawes, sustained when he fell during a training session, twisting his chest. It is a big disappointment for the 32-year-old, who missed all England's autumn matches following ankle surgery.
Lawes is the latest back rower to become unavailable, joining Jack Willis, who will miss the rest of the season after suffering a terrible knee injury against Italy, and Sam Underhill, absent with a hip injury, on the sidelines.
With Wilson starting, coach Eddie Jones has included uncapped 19-year-old George Martin, who has made only three Premiership starts for Leicester, among the replacements. If he gets on to the pitch in Cardiff on Saturday he will be the first senior England player to be born this century.
Having made a poor start to the defence of their title, with a home defeat by Scotland and a routine but not sparkling win over Italy, England will be desperate for victory and a convincing performance against an experienced Wales side who have won both their opening games, against Ireland and Scotland.
(Reporting by Mitch Phillips, editing by Toby Davis)