Rugby Union: Joe Launchbury passed fit to start England's second Test against South Africa in major boost to Eddie Jones

Gavin Mairs
The Telegraph

England have been handed a major boost ahead of the second Test match against South Africa after Joe Launchbury was passed fit to play having recovered from his calf injury.

Launchbury, who missed the defeat in the first Test in Johannesburg, had been considered a major doubt for the must-win game in Bloemfontein after again missing training on Tuesday.

However, Steve Borthwick, the England forwards coach, confirmed on Wednesday that the Wasps captain has since been able to take a full part in training and is now expected to return to the starting XV in place of Nick Isiekwe.

Brad Shields, who had been on standby to start in the second row if Launchbury was ruled out of the game, will now come under consideration for a place in the back row.

“Joe Launchbury trained today and trained well,” said Borthwick. “He's done a great job with his rehabilitation and is available for selection.

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Having a player of that quality available is great. He was great in training today and has been terrific around the squad over the last week or so.

“Even though he wasn't playing he's been absolutely brilliant. The group of second rows work well together and his influence around the squad is great.

“He's a big second row but is also very talented. You can see his ability to run in the loose, but also his ability in the tight. He's very good around the maul both in attack and defence. He's a very scrummager.”

<span>Joe Launchbury takes part in full training</span> <span>Credit: getty images </span>
Joe Launchbury takes part in full training Credit: getty images

The only injury concern for England is prop Ellis Genge, who missed training after taking an accidental knock. He has gone for a scan but the injury is not thought to be serious.

Borthwick said England were determined to eradicate the errors they made in the first Test which allowed South Africa to overhaul a 21-point deficit.  

We're clearly disappointed by the defeat, but there's also a positivity about certain aspects of the game such as that first 20 minute,” Borthwick added.

“It was also positive that we got ourselves back into the game and take it close in the end. We have great resolve and determination to get the result we want this weekend. The way the players have trained has been brilliant and I see a lot of positivity from the players after the game.”

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