Lancaster said Robshaw took a blow to the thumb in the first Test in Durban and then another blow in the second Test. Scans of the thumb on Monday revealed an undisplaced fracture and the medical advice was that the openside flank should not play in the third Test in Port Elizabeth on Saturday so as to avoid possible surgery.
Hooker Dylan Hartley will take over the captaincy, Lancaster told a news conference in Johannesburg on Monday.
“It’s disappointing to lose our captain and also such an influential player. Last August Chris was not even in the World Cup squad and what he has done since then has just been outstanding. He will now miss just his third game this season which, playing in such an attritional position, is amazing.
“But Dylan has always been part of the leadership group, he’s driven training, he’s the first-choice in his position, respected by the players and captain at Northampton,” Lancaster said.
Robshaw has been a tremendous force at the breakdowns, despite England’s two narrow defeats in the first two Tests, but potential replacements Thomas Waldrom and James Haskell have both produced powerful performances on tour already. Phil Dowson is also expected to return to training this week after a tight hamstring kept him off the replacements’ bench for the second Test.
Lancaster also announced the England team to play a tour match against the SA Northern Barbarians in Potchefstroom on Tuesday, with the most notable selection being that of Lee Dickson at scrumhalf.
The coach said Dickson will use the match to get some crucial game time following the shoulder injury that has forced Test scrumhalf Ben Youngs out of the tour.
Dickson has been on the bench for the first two Tests and will be competing with the experienced, livewire halfback Danny Care for a place in the starting XV for the final Test.
“It’s a useful opportunity for people who need some game time, like Lee Dickson. He’s desperate to play and he was always going to start this game. We’ll probably take him off to protect him at half-time,” Lancaster said.
Lee Dickson’s older brother Karl, who arrived in South Africa on Monday morning as the replacement for Youngs, will then replace him.
The midweek team will once again be led by lock George Robson and shows six changes from the side that beat the SA Southern Barbarians last week, including a start for British and Irish Lions wing Ugo Monye, who has recovered from a hamstring niggle.
“We want to finish with two wins this week, finish on a high. It’s important to finish on a high note,” Robson stated.
Team – 15-Nick Abendanon, 14-Christian Wade, 13-Anthony Allen, 12-Jordan Turner-Hall, 11-Ugo Monye, 10-Charlie Hodgson, 9-Lee Dickson, 8-Ben Morgan, 7-Carl Fearns, 6-Jamie Gibson, 5-George Robson, 4-Graham Kitchener, 3-Paul Doran-Jones, 2-Tom Youngs, 1-Matt Mullan. Replacements: 16-Joe Gray, 17-Rupert Harden, 18-Mouritz Botha, 19-James Haskell, 20-Karl Dickson, 21-David Strettle, 22-Jonny May.