LONDON: Prop Joe Marler has withdrawn from England’s squad for the entire Six Nations to be with his family during the coronavirus pandemic.
Also, lock Joe Launchbury will miss the first three rounds after breaking his leg.
Marler ruled himself out on Monday, three days after being named in the 28-man squad. It means England will begin its title defence on Feb. 6 against Scotland without its two main loosehead props after Mako Vunipola suffered an Achilles injury. Ellis Genge was the only capped loosehead remaining.
Coach Eddie Jones summoned Wasps prop Tom West and Bath lock Charlie Ewels.
Marler wrote on Twitter: Always grateful for the opportunity so not an easy decision, but want to do right by my family in these crazy times and won’t be meeting up with the squad for this tournament. Look forward to watching the team rip in.
Launchbury’s fibia stress fracture was cruel timing given that last autumn he re-established himself in the second row alongside Maro Itoje following a resurgence that has continued.
Wasps coach Lee Blackett said they will rehab Launchbury and hope he can be available for England’s last two matches against France on March 13 and Ireland on March 20.
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