Brown nurses fractured thumb

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Johannesburg - England fullback Mike Brown has been ruled out of the three-Test series against South Africa with a fractured thumb and will be replaced by Bath's Nick Abendanon, the team management said on Monday.

Abendanon, 25, has already joined the squad ahead of the second Test against the Springboks on Saturday in Johannesburg, where he attended the weekend wedding of Bath teammate Pieter Dixon.

South Africa lost their fullback Zane Kirchner on Monday for the second Test. Kirchner injured his knee in the first Test in Durban last weekend and will be replaced by Stormers utility back Gio Aplon.

Abendanon was born in Johannesburg and made his Test debut in Pretoria against the Springboks in 2007. He won his second and last test cap against France at Twickenham later that year. Brown will return home for an operation on his thumb.

England's backline will have to be further shuffled for the second Test after centre Brad Barritt, another South African-born player, underwent a minor operation at the weekend for a lacerated eyeball.

“Barritt won't figure in this week's games, but will join us in Johannesburg later this week,” England media manager Dave Barton told Reuters.

South Africa, who staged a second-half rally to beat England 22-17 in the first Test last Saturday, said Kirchner's knee would be checked again next week ahead of the final test in Port Elizabeth on June 23.

“It's always tough losing a fullback because it means you need a specialist reserve,” Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said. - Reuters

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