England face anxious wait to discover seriousness of Courtney Lawes’ calf injury ahead of the Six Nations after Northampton flanker is forced off before half-time in Heineken Champions Cup defeat by La Rochelle
- Courtney Lawes suffered his latest setback of a troubled season on Saturday
- Forward was forced off as the Saints lost at home to title-holders La Rochelle
- It was only his third start of this 2022-23 campaign after a long lay-off
Courtney Lawes is in grave danger of being ruled out of England’s training camp this week, due to a calf injury – leaving his availability for the start of the Six Nations in serious doubt.
The 33-year-old Northampton forward suffered his latest setback of a troubled season on Saturday, when he was forced off before half-time as the Saints lost at home to French side and title-holders La Rochelle in the Heineken Champions Cup.
It was only Lawes’ third start of this 2022-23 campaign after a long lay-off following a concussion in late September, then a glute problem which sidelined him during the festive period.
Veteran Courtney Lawes suffered his latest setback of a troubled season on Saturday
Last Monday, the veteran Lion was named in Steve Borthwick’s first England squad as one of two vice-captains who would support skipper Owen Farrell.
But Lawes is chronically short of recent game-time. Having led the national team to a 2-1 series victory in Australia last summer, he missed the autumn campaign which led to the abrupt end of the Eddie Jones regime – meaning he remains four caps short of reaching a Test century for his country.
Asked about the injury sustained by his flanker on Saturday, Northampton’s director of rugby, Phil Dowson, said: ‘He had a tight calf and didn’t feel like he could play on. He’ll get it scanned and I’m sure England will be waiting on that.’
Lawes was forced off as Northampton lost to La Rochelle in the Heineken Champions Cup
Borthwick and his assistants will be waiting – and fearing more disruption to their Six Nations plans, at a time when they are already without two mainstays of the Red Rose pack; Tom Curry and Luke Cowan-Dickie, along with established reserve tighthead prop Will Stuart.
If Lawes is unavailable, Ollie Chessum or Nick Isiekwe may be cons
idered as other locks who can be deployed at blindside, or Borthwick could opt for a different back-row balance with two out-and-out flankers. That would leave two possible vacancies to be contested by Jack Willis, Lewis Ludlam, Ben Earl and Ben Curry.
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