Robshaw blow rocks England

PA Sport
England will be without captain Chris Robshaw for the third Test

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England will be without captain Chris Robshaw for the third Test

England have suffered a serious injury blow ahead of the third Test against South Africa with the loss of inspirational captain Chris Robshaw.

The 26-year-old flanker has been ruled out of Saturday's clash in Port Elizabeth after fracturing his right thumb. Robshaw took a bang to the hand in the first Test in Durban and thought it was bruising but had it assessed after suffering another painful blow in Saturday's second Test in Johannesburg.

His fears of a break have now been confirmed but head coach Stuart Lancaster has moved quickly to name hooker Dylan Hartley as replacement skipper.

Lancaster said: "We're devastated to hear the news. Chris has led us superbly in the last seven internationals and been one of our standout performers. But the medical advice is that he should not play and we have to trust that expert opinion.

"It is a blow but we have had one or two injuries along the way now and that is generally the nature of international rugby. It presents an opportunity for someone else.

"Dylan will take over as captain and is delighted to accept it. He has been part of a leadership group since the beginning of the tour and I'm sure he'll do a great job."

News of Robshaw's injury came a day after it was announced scrum-half Ben Youngs would also miss the third Test with a shoulder injury. Robshaw will stay in South Africa until the end of the tour but Youngs is to return home, following three other injured players in Mike Brown, George Lowe and Joe Launchbury.

Robshaw said: "I'm absolutely gutted. I've been very proud and honoured to lead this group during the Six Nations and on this tour and it's a difficult way to end the season."

Robshaw's withdrawal could clear the way for James Haskell to return to the senior England side for the first time since last year's World Cup.

The experienced back rower has only been included on the bench for the next match of the tour, against the Northern Barbarians in Potchefstroom, suggesting he is being kept fresh for Port Elizabeth.

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