GLOUCESTER PROP Rupert Harden has been called into the England squad for the tour to South Africa.

Harden replaces Saracens’ Matt Stevens, who suffered a shoulder rotator cuff injury during Sunday’s Killik Cup victory against the Barbarians.

With EPS members Henry Thomas and David Wilson injured, 26-year-old Harden will join England training this afternoon ahead of flying tomorrow.

England Head Coach Stuart Lancaster said: “Firstly, it’s really tough on Matt but he has been assessed by the medics and he wouldn’t be able to train or play for some time. We wish him all the best but it’s a great opportunity for Rupert, who has been the first choice tight head for Gloucester this season and also involved in the Saxons during the Six Nations.”

Rupert Harden has established himself as Gloucester’s No.1  tight head this season, making 29 first team appearances and signing a new two-year Kingsholm contract in February.

He forced his way into the England reckoning for the first time in January, joining the England Saxons EPS as an replacement for Sale Sharks’ Henry Thomas, and was included in the matchday 22 for games against O2 Ireland Wolfhounds and Scotland A.

Born in Melbourne to an Australian father and English mother, he was raised on the family farm in Penrith, Cumbria, and educated in London before sixth form studies at Rugby School were followed by a History degree at Newcastle University.

He signed for Gloucester – making his debut in the Kingsholm friendly against Australia in November 2009 – and went out on loan initially to Moseley before working his way into the first team over the following two seasons and nailing down his first team place this term.

Rupert Harden
Club: Gloucester Rugby
Position: Prop
Born: 09.05.1986 [26]
Height: 1.91m (6ft 3in) Weight: 118kg (18st 8lb)