Six Nations 2013: England duo Lawes & Hartley head back to Northampton
Six Nations 2013: Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes could miss out on Italy clash after the duo returned to Northampton Saints
England boss Stuart Lancaster has given the biggest indication yet that Northampton duo Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes could lose their starting role against Italy after both were released back to the Saints for this weekend’s Premiership fixture with London Irish.
Hartley and Lawes both started for England during their Six Nations win over France but are among ten players released from the international squad for this weekend’s round of Premiership fixtures.
Gloucester’s Ben Morgan and number eight Billy Vunipola of London Wasps are also continuing their recoveries from injuries under a joint club-England medical programme at Pennyhill Park, while Owen Farrell won’t train this week after suffering a tight quad against France.
Mako Vunipola has not been released, with the Saracens prop in contention to start against the Azzurri, while Harlequins scrum-half Danny Care will also not be involved with his club this weekend, increasing his hopes of replacing Ben Youngs.
Leicester hooker Tom Youngs could regain the starting role from Hartley, while Lawes had a disappointing outing at blind-side, so James Haskell could come back into the side.
The Wasps flanker, plus Northampton’s Ben Foden and Lee Dickson, Worcester’s Matt Kvesic, Saracens pair David Strettle and Joel Tomkins, Bath prop David Wilson and Leicester number eight Thomas Waldrom, will also be available for their clubs this weekend.
“Owen is recovering from a tight quad muscle,” said Lancaster.
“He probably won’t train this week, but we are fortunate to have Toby [Flood] who came on and did well against France.
“This week is partly about recharging our batteries after a tough Test match, but we trained well today [Tuesday] and are in pretty good shape.”