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Northampton Saints star Courtney Lawes will miss the start of England's Six Nations campaign as he undergoes surgery to repair a troublesome ankle injury.
The second row hasn't played since the Saints' win over rivals Leicester Tigers back in December.
Northampton Director of Rugby Jim Mallinder hasn't ruled out Lawes being fit for the backend of the Six Nations.
Meanwhile, fellow Saints player Ben Foden will have a scan today on a knee injury picked up in the weekend's European Cup win over Ospreys.
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Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal has confirmed that Northampton Saints forwards Samu Manoa and Salesi Ma’afu will sign for his club at the end of the season.
The news will come as a blow to Northampton who had managed to tie down their other prized assets in Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes last week.
American star Manoa has been handed a four-year contract by the European Champions, and Boudjellal has backed him to impress in France.
“Samu Manoa is the first four-year contract that I have signed.
For me, he will become the star of the Top 14. He is a rugby phenomenon, made for Mayol."
Toulon have also agreed a deal to sign Saints prop Ma’afu, while New Zealand centre Ma’a Nonu and Clermont winger Napolioni Nalaga have also joined.
Seven Northampton Saints players, including England stars Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes, have signed new contracts with the club.
Speculation had been mounting that Hartley would switch to French club Montpellier, but the Saints captain has revealed that he spurned their advances to stay at Franklin's Gardens.
Second-row Courtney Lawes was also linked with a move away after establishing himself as one of the best forwards in the Aviva Premiership.
Calum Clark, Alex Waller, Ethan Waller, James Craig and Gareth Denman have also committed their futures to Northampton.
“We have a group that has shown time and again that they have the ability to compete at the highest level of club rugby, and retaining players is very important to us.
The seven forwards that we have announced today are all good players already, but they still have the ability to improve and we are looking forward to seeing them develop further at Franklin’s Gardens.”
Click below to see a full interview with Dylan Hartley:
Northampton Saints star Lee Dickson admits he's desperate to force his way back into the England squad ahead of next year's World Cup.
The scrum-half was overlooked by Head Coach Stuart Lancaster for the Autumn internationals last month.
Despite the setback, Dickson says he's focussed on impressing for the Saints - starting with this Saturday's European Cup trip to Italian side Treviso.
"I've been very disappointed not to play for England when I've felt like maybe I could have had a crack here and there but that's professional rugby.
Things go against you and you've got to react.
I think I've reacted very well, I think I've played well in the last couple of games and I've just got to keep putting my hand up."
England Head Coach Stuart Lancaster is "optimistic" that Northampton Saints forwards Courtney Lawes and Dylan Hartley will be fit to face South Africa on Saturday.
There were serious concerns over Lawes in particular, who was forced to come off in the defeat to New Zealand with concussion.
Both players will still need to pass concussion tests in order to feature at Twickenham.
"Courtney is symptom-free so hopefully he will be okay. Dylan has also got bit of a head knock and is in the same situation.
They need to train on Thursday to be ready. They will do a cog test on Thursday morning which they have to pass to train.
We will have provisions in place should they fail that, but we are optimistic they will be available."
England Head Coach Stuart Lancaster has admitted that Northampton Saints centre Luther Burrell is "almost certain" to miss the first test with New Zealand at Twickenham.
The 26-year-old injured his hand in Saturday's European Champions Cup win over Ospreys, and he has now effectively been ruled out of England's first test of the autumn in 10 days time.
Burrell will now visit a specialist to determine whether he can make any of the remaining games in the series, with England also taking on South Africa, Samoa and Australia.
"He's still in the equation further down the line. He's definitely not out the series. We'll see how he goes.
If the specialist is positive, then potentially he could come back into camp next week, but he won't have done any of the work."
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