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Surgery rules Courtney Lawes out of England’s first two Six Nations games

• Lawes has had ankle trouble since late December
• Second-row misses games against Wales and Italy
Lawes signs new deal at Northampton

Courtney Lawes will have an operation on Monday on a chipped ankle bone that will rule him out of at least the first two rounds of the Six Nations and leave the England head coach, Stuart Lancaster, without his leading two second-row forwards as Joe Launchbury targets April as the date of his return from neck surgery.

Lawes has not played since Northampton’s Premiership victory over Leicester at Franklin’s Gardens last month. The Saints have said for the last two weeks that he was very close to a return, even last Thursday stating that they hoped he would be fit for Sunday’s European Champions Cup match against Ospreys in Swansea.

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