sport

Youngs to miss tour to support wife

Hooker Tom Youngs will forego a place in England's touring squad to New Zealand next month in order to support his ill wife.

Youngs will miss the June Test series to look after his family, with England boss Stuart Lancaster firmly behind the move.

"Our thoughts are with Tom and Tiffany at this time and it is entirely right that he stays at home to support her and their daughter Maisie," said head coach Lancaster.

"Everyone in the England squad sends them our best wishes."

Youngs' absence in New Zealand adds to England's hooker shortage, with Dylan Hartley, Rob Webber and David Paice all battling for fitness to make the tour.

Harlequins' Dave Ward and Exeter's Luke Cowan-Dickie, both uncapped, could yet be pitched into action for England's first Test on June 7 in Auckland.

British Lions forwards Alex Corbisiero and Tom Croft will also miss out despite recovering from long-term injuries, with England's coaching staff unwilling to risk the pair for the three-Test All Blacks challenge.

Wings Christian Wade and Jack Nowell will also definitely sit out the tour through injury, while doubts remain over the fitness of Gloucester centre Billy Twelvetrees and Bath hooker Rob Webber.

Twelvetrees suffered ankle trouble in Gloucester's 38-30 Aviva Premiership victory over London Irish on Saturday, and should learn the severity of his injury after scans on Thursday.

Webber suffered a knee injury in Bath's 19-19 draw with Northampton on Friday night and is now fighting to recover in time for England's summer tour.

Northampton prop Corbisiero is ready for club action after seven months on the sidelines with persistent knee problems, while Leicester flanker Croft is back after tearing knee ligaments on the season's opening day.

The experienced pairing will hand their east midlands clubs big Aviva Premiership play-off boosts, but will not be considered ready for Test rugby this summer.

England boss Lancaster views both Lions series winners in Australia last summer as central to his Rugby World Cup 2015 plans.

Corbisiero has long since battled chronic knee issues, while Croft's knee ligament trouble came just one season after career-threatening neck trauma.

The England management will not take any chances with either player's long-term involvement, and feel next month's New Zealand tour falls while they are still finding their feet after injury.

"Alex and Tom have worked really hard to come back before the end of the season but they will not have played enough rugby for them to be considered for such a tour," said Lancaster.

"It's the same with Christian Wade.

"They have all had significant injuries; it will be a short-term loss but a long-term gain for us and their clubs as we enter a huge 18 months.

"Jack (Nowell) needs to get his knee sorted so he will be ready for next season and the World Cup and it's the right decision for him to have the operation next week."

Lancaster will delay finalising his New Zealand tour party as long as possible to combat club and country fixture congestion.

The England boss will wait on the outcome of a host of club play-offs and finals before completing the 40-plus squad required for the All Blacks challenge.