Matt Stevens ruled out of England tour to South Africa

 

Matt Stevens has been ruled out of England's three-Test summer tour to South Africa after suffering a shoulder injury.

Stevens, who damaged his rotator cuff in England's win against the Barbarians on Sunday, has been replaced in the touring party by Gloucester's Rupert Harden.

England head coach Stuart Lancaster said: "Firstly, it's really tough on Matt but he has been assessed by the medics and he wouldn't be able to train or play for some time.

"We wish him all the best but it's a great opportunity for Rupert, who has been the first-choice tight head for Gloucester this season and also involved in the Saxons during the Six Nations."

England turned to Harden with elite squad members Henry Thomas and David Wilson both injured.

The 26-year-old established himself as Gloucester's first-choice tight-head this season, making 29 appearances for the Cherry and Whites.

Harden, who was born in Melbourne to an Australian father and English mother, was called into the Saxons squad for their January fixtures against the Ireland Wolfhounds and Scotland A.

Stevens offered Lancaster valuable versatility on the bench, covering both prop positions during the RBS 6 Nations.

PA

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