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Rugby | Springboks

Launchbury to launch against Boks

England received a major boost ahead of the second test against the Springboks when Joe Launchbury completed a training session on Wednesday.

It was the first time that the experienced lock and Wasps captain has trained with the rest of the England squad since he injured a calf muscle 12 days ago.

He was sorely missed by England in the first test in Johannesburg and on Tuesday he was said to be a doubtful starter for although he had trained, he had trained on his own.

But scrum coach Neal Hatley did say that everything depended on how Launchbury went when assessed by the physios and other medical people after the training session.

It can be assumed that as he trained with the team on Wednesday, there were no ill effects from his return to the training field the day before, and forwards coach Steve Borthwick confirmed that he will be available for selection.

Selection to the starting team should be a cinch for Launchbury, who made his first start for England in the Twickenham test against the Boks in 2012, as his presence will boost an area, second row, where England coach Eddie Jones clearly felt he was let down last weekend.

Jones substituted young Nick Isiekwe before halftime at Emirates Airlines Park in what he said afterwards was a tactical substitution designed to get the pack up to pace with the high tempo game.

Brad Shields, the New Zealander drafted in from Super Rugby, where he leads the high riding Hurricanes, was the man to replace Isiekwe in Johannesburg and with Launchbury almost certain to start, the speculation will shift to whether the Kiwi will still be accommodated in the starting team anyway in his usual position at loose-forward.

Former England captain Chris Robshaw is said to be under pressure for his place in the face of the challenge from Shields.


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