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Knee surgery rules George Kruis out of England's Six Nations campaign

George Kruis has been ruled out of the remainder of England's RBS 6 Nations title defence due to a knee problem that leaves his British and Irish Lions aspirations in major jeopardy.

Kruis is to undergo surgery to repair ligament damage on Tuesday and will not return to action until mid April at the earliest.

It means he will play no part in the Championship having already sat out Saturday's 19-16 victory over France, also robbing him of the opportunity to press his claim for Lions selection.

The 26-year-old lock was a contender to tour New Zealand during the summer but with head coach Warren Gatland scheduled to name his squad on April 19, he is now unlikely to force his way into the reckoning in a ferociously competitive position.

"George will undergo surgery on Tuesday for a knee ligament injury sustained in training earlier in the week," a Rugby Football Union statement read.

"It is expected that the second row will require a 10-12 week rehabilitation period."

The setback is a sickening blow for Kruis, who had only just recovered from a fractured cheekbone and was in line to start against France until he incurred the knee problem during training.

Having visited one specialist to assess the extent the ligament damage, it was hoped he would recover through non-surgical rehab but upon visiting a second his worst fears were confirmed.

He missed the opening two matches of the autumn because of an ankle complaint before returning against Argentina and Australia as England completed an unbeaten year.

Joe Launchbury stepped into the breach against France and is now set to continue his second row partnership with Courtney Lawes.

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