Tom Wood has revealed that he is set to have surgery on a neck problem, ruling him out of England’s tour of Australia.
The Saints flanker was named man of the match in Saturday’s Aviva Premiership final-day win at Gloucester.
He has been playing through the pain barrier to help his club secure a place in the top six and will now take time to get himself fully fit before next season.
England will play three Test matches in Australia in June and it is not clear whether Wood would have been selected, but his injury means he will not be involved.
“I’ve got an issue with my neck so I’ve got to get that sorted over the summer,” Wood said.
“I’m booked in for an operation next week so I’ve got to take care of that and make sure I’m in a better place for next season.
“We’re going to come back bigger, better and stronger and start all over again next year.”
Wood had called on Saints to end the season on a high and he put in another warrior-like performance to ensure they did just that.
He feels the team has ‘stood still’ in finishing fifth this season and believes improvements will be made ahead of the next campaign.
“A few of us have been looking to our holidays and had one eye on the break so we just needed to get the job done and give ourselves a foundation to build on next year,” he said.
“We needed to be in that top-flight European rugby and we wanted to finish the season on a high to give our fans something to shout about.
“We wanted to send the likes of Victor Matfield and Kahn Fotuali’i off with a win and we’re happy we got it done in the end.
“That was the minimum standard, to get what we needed to and finish in the top six so we could build for next year.
“I feel like we’ve stood still a bit this year and in doing so, everyone’s overtaken us.
“Credit to Saracens and Exeter - they’ve been the stand-out sides all year - and we’ve just got to take our medicine because we weren’t good enough.
“We’ve got to come back, do some building and come back next year.”