White replaces shamed Stevens

Julian White has stepped in for the suspended Matt Stevens as England manager Martin Johnson lays down the law on drug use.

Stevens has been suspended from all rugby and faces a two-year ban since he confessed to using cocaine.

“Illegal drug use cannot be tolerated,” said Johnson. “The regulations are very clear that any player who has tested positive is immediately provisionally suspended from all competition pending a disciplinary hearing.

“Matt has admitted that he has a problem and on behalf of the England players and management we hope that his rehabilitation programme is successful.”

The ban will also rule Stevens out of the British & Lions tour to South Africa. Lions back coach Rob Howley said it was disappointing news but Stevens only has himself to blame.

“I know Matt is an exceptional rugby player, a great talent and it’s sad,” Howley said. “I genuinely felt very sorry for him. It’s an illness, an addiction.

“It’s sad but, as he said, it’s irresponsible, isn’t it? He knows he’s probably done wrong.”