Danny Care has been booted out of England’s RBS 6 Nations squad after being arrested for drink driving.
Care was around double the legal limit on New Year’s Eve and will plead guilty at a court hearing on January 16.
And despite Care’s outstanding current form, England head coach Stuart Lancaster has handed out immediate punishment by ensuring he won’t be able to push Ben Youngs for the No9 spot against France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland or Wales.
"I have met Danny and told him that he will not be considered for selection for the Senior or Saxons Elite Player Squads that are due to be announced on January 11 for the forthcoming Six Nations campaign," said Lancaster.
"This is his second arrest in three weeks for alcohol related offences and it is completely unacceptable.
"We will monitor his progress from this event through Harlequins and we have every confidence in the club to support him in the right way.
"At such a time that we feel he can be trusted to behave appropriately on and off the field then he will be reconsidered for selection, but this will not be until the conclusion of the 6 Nations as a minimum.”
Care missed the World Cup with a toe injury but had been expected to challenge for a 6 Nations starting spot following an outstanding first half of the season with Premiership leaders Quins.
But his actions off the field have now overshadowed his progress on it with the 25-year-old already having cautioned for being drunk and disorderly in mid December.
His absence should mean Joe Simpson of London Wasps becomes Youngs’ immediate understudy but the identity of the third No9 now becomes much harder to predict.
Saracens’ Richard Wigglesworth featured in the World Cup but is sidelined for the season with ACL damage, leaving England with a shortage of experienced scrum-halves.
Saxons cap Lee Dickson seems the favourite to win a call up having starred for England’s second string but Sarries youngster Ben Spencer could be a surprise selection.