England tour of South Africa
Matt Stevens ruled out of South Africa tour
May 29, 2012
Matt Stevens has been ruled out of the tour due to injury © Getty Images
Versatile front-row Matt Stevens has been ruled out of England's tour to South Africa due to a shoulder injury.
England coach Stuart Lancaster confirmed the news at a press conference on Tuesday and he has called up uncapped Gloucester prop Rupert Harden as Stevens' replacement. The news will come as a massive blow to Stevens who has shone for Saracens since returning from the 2011 World Cup.
Stevens sustained the knock against the Barbarians on Sunday in what is described by the Rugby Football Union as a 'shoulder rotator cuff injury'. Stevens left the field at half-time on Sunday but came back on the field for the final five minutes of the game due to Paul Doran Jones leaving the field.
Fellow EPS members David Wilson and Henry Thomas are both injured and so for Melbourne-born Harden, the call-up caps an impressive season for the 26-year-old tight-head. The product of Newcastle Falcons' academy has had a spell at Cinderford but excelled at Gloucester this term making 29 appearances.
Lancaster said of the announcement: "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."
Toby Flood came through a full training session with England on Tuesday to prove he is fit for the tour of South Africa. The Leicester fly-half has been sidelined since damaging his ankle against Bath on May 5 and he was withdrawn from the Aviva Premiership final on Saturday with a tight groin.
But Flood looked sharp as the England touring squad were put through their attacking paces ahead of Wednseday's departure for Durban. Flood, who has not started a Test at fly-half since the World Cup game against Georgia, will compete with Owen Farrell and Charlie Hodgson for the position in England's three-Test series.
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