England and Northampton Saints captain Dylan Hartley has been ruled out for the remainder of the season with ongoing concussion issues.
Northampton released a statement earlier today that he will miss the rest of the club season as well as the national side's Southern Hemisphere tour in June.
The club statement read: "Hartley sustained the injury in England’s 6 Nations match against Ireland last month and has not played for the club since.
"Following specialist medical advice, Hartley will take an extended period of rest over the summer with a view to start Saints’ pre-season training."
Concerns over Hartley's health have arisen in the recent months, with the England skipper also admitting to having no recollection of lifting the Six Nations trophy in 2016.
Hartley missed 14-weeks of the 2015/16 season with issues from a separate concussion and said that he "would probably start looking at other careers" should a similar situation arise.
The 32-year-old commented on the news of his season ending earlier today: “I’m very disappointed that I will not be available for selection for Saints’ remaining Premiership games, as well England’s tour to South Africa,” said Hartley.
“It has been recommended by specialists that I take a break this summer and while I find that decision hard to accept, it’s important I listen to that advice.
“I intend to use this time to recover fully from my injury, so I can be ready to hit the ground running when pre-season training starts later this summer.”
Hartley's absence and the expectation that England boss Eddie Jones will rest Saracens and Lions hooker Jamie George raises questions over who the Australian Head Coach will start against the Springboks this June.
The most likely list of replacements includes Exeter Chiefs' Luke Cowan-Dickie, Bath's Tom Dunn and recently returned to fitness Wasps front row Tommy Taylor. Worcester Warriors' Jack Singleton is a fourth name that will likely be considered by Jones after featuring on the bench for both of England's games against Argentina last summer.
England June tests vs South Africa
Kick-off times to be confirmed.