England lose Courtney Lawes for Six Nations opener as vice-captain withdraws through injury

Withdrawn: Courtney Lawes suffered a calf injury during Northampton’s home defeat by La Rochelle (Getty Images)
Withdrawn: Courtney Lawes suffered a calf injury during Northampton’s home defeat by La Rochelle (Getty Images)

England have suffered an early Six Nations blow with vice-captain Courtney Lawes ruled out of their opener against Scotland through injury.

The Northampton forward picked up a calf injury in Saints’ 31-13 Champions Cup defeat by La Rochelle on Saturday, and will miss the February 4 clash at Twickenham.

Lawes and hooker George McGuigan have withdrawn from Steve Borthwick’s first England training squad that is due to meet on Monday to start the Six Nations camp.

McGuigan picked up a knee issue in Gloucester training, and will also miss the start of the competition. Lawes’ Northampton team-mate David Ribbans has replaced him in the England squad, while Bath’s Tom Dunn has stepped in for McGuigan.

England have further injury doubts over hooker Jamie George, who suffered a head injury in Saracens’ 20-14 Champions Cup loss at Edinburgh on Sunday.

Harlequins’ Jack Walker is the other hooker in the England squad, with front-row resources set to be stretched if George becomes a serious doubt for the start of the Six Nations.