Surgery forces Stevens out of England tour

ENGLAND head coach Andy Robinson faces a potential front-row crisis for the summer tour of Australia following the loss of Matt Stevens.

Bath prop Stevens faces up to six months out after being forced to undergo surgery to repair his injured shoulder.

His absence adds to Robinson’s problems, Andrew Sheridan likely to miss the rest of the season with a neck problem and Phil Vickery, whose back injury forced him out of year’s 6 Nations, is still sidelined.

Another problem lies in the fact that one possible replacement, Perry Freshwater, may not be available if Perpignan reach the French play-offs.

These difficulties may force Robinson to reconsider his plans to rest some of his senior players.

Robinson had intimated some of those who featured on last year’s Lions tour could be given a summer off. That would possibly include another prop, Julian White, who played in all three Lions Tests in New Zealand.

The likes of Bath pair Duncan Bell and David Flatman, the latter playing again after two injury- ravaged seasons, or Wasps’ Tim Payne could now come into Robinson’s reckoning. A recall for Leicester veteran Graham Rowntree may also not be out of the question.

Stevens was told he required an operation after being forced to miss the recent Six Nations matches against Scotland and Ireland, as well Bath’s Heineken Cup semi-final at Leicester last Saturday.

Robinson said: “Matt is an important part of the England squad and made a big contribution during the Autumn Investec Challenge series and the RBS 6 Nations. He will be missed by Bath during this crucial time of the season and by us on the tour to Australia - and we wish him a swift and full recovery.”

Stevens’ lay-off is a serious blow for Bath as they prepare for their Heineken Cup semi-final against Biarritz.

Head coach Brian Ashton said: “We are sorry to be losing Matt for the rest of the season. We wish him a speedy recovery and hope he will be back in time for the start of the new season.”

More in this section


Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox