Castleford Tigers half-back Rangi Chase has been ruled out of England’s autumn internationals after picking up a groin injury on their training camp in South Africa.
The 2011 Man of Steel complained of the problem during last week’s high-altitude camp in Potchefstroom and a scan has ruled him out of the games against Wales in Wrexham on Saturday and France at Hull KR’s MS3 Craven Park a week later, as well as the November 11 final if England get there.
“It is a great shame,” said coach Steve McNamara. “He has trained hard during our camp and has been an integral member of the squad.
“The lad is devastated to miss out. He was looking forward to the month ahead with England and making a huge impact. The important thing now is for him to rest, rehabilitate and get himself ready for the new season.”
England’s chief medical officer Dr Chris Brookes said: “Although Rangi’s injury is responding to treatment, it has been decided that this improvement has not been sufficient for him to participate in the tournament.
“The England Rugby League medical staff will continue to monitor his progress and rehabilitation to ensure he is fully recovered from this injury.”
McNamara will select his team for the Wales game from a reduced 23-man squad, but has not ruled out bringing in a replacement during the tournament.
England also look certain to be without Wigan full-back Sam Tomkins for the opener as he continues his recovery from a knee injury, while his club-mate, hooker Michael McIlorum, still has one game left of a three-match suspension to serve.
Both could return for the game against France, who opened the tournament with a 20-6 victory over Wales in Lens on Saturday.
n Stuart Dickens, Featherstone’s long-serving captain, has announced his retirement in order to join the coaching staff of Super League neighbours Wakefield Trinity.
The 32-year-old prop forward, who has spent his entire playing career with Rovers apart from a nine-game spell in Super League with Salford in 2005, has been appointed as the Wildcats’ new Under-19s coach.
“Wakefield is my hometown club so I will be honoured to become part of the coaching staff,” said Dickens, who made more than 400 appearances for Featherstone since making his debut in 1998.