England boss Eddie Jones has been forced to make two changes to his Guinness Six Nations squad, with Joe Launchbury and Joe Marler both withdrawing.
Launchbury – who has 69 international caps to his name – has been ruled out with a fibia stress fracture, while Marler has ruled himself out due to personal reasons.
The pair will be replaced by Charlie Ewels and Tom West in the squad, with the latter being called up to the senior squad for the first time after impressing in the Gallagher Premiership for Wasps.
Harlequins prop Marler took to social media to explain his decision on Monday afternoon, with the 30-year-old giving his best wishes to the team in his absence.
The England man Tweeted: “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. Go well.”
Wasps star Launchbury has seen injury hamper his chances of performing in the Championship for the second successive year, after a knee injury limited his game time as England lifted the trophy in 2020.
But domestic teammate West will be chomping at the bit to fill the void left by the two English stalwarts, with club coach Lee Blackett confident his man can make an impact on the biggest stage.
“He fully deserved it, he’s been outstanding this year,” said Blackett.
“He’s got more and more opportunities and the more opportunities he’s had the more he’s shone, so I’m really happy for Westy.
“One thing is how dynamic he is. How powerful he is. Any times he carries, anytime he picks and goes, how dynamic he is in and around that.
“He is what you would class as a modern day loosehead within the game. His work rate around the field. If you go back and look at some of the tries we’ve scored, he’s in and around that.
“He is always in and around the action, he works ridiculously hard. For me it’s his work rate off the ball that makes him excel as well as being powerful and dynamic.”
West and Ewels will meet up with the rest of the 28-man squad this Wednesday as England begin preparations for this year’s Championship, where they begin the defence of their crown against Scotland at Twickenham on February 6.