June 5, 2018 / 2:26 PM / 10 months ago

England's Launchbury doubtful for first test

Rugby Union - Premiership - Sale Sharks vs Wasps - AJ Bell Stadium, Sale, Britain - April 6, 2018 Wasps' Joe Launchbury Action Images/Craig Brough

DURBAN (Reuters) - England lock Joe Launchbury is a doubt for Saturday’s first test against South Africa in Johannesburg due to a calf injury.

It has forced him to train apart from the rest of the squad at England’s coastal base in Durban as they prepare for the match against the Springboks at Ellis Park.

“It’s difficult to say where we are at the moment. He’s trained and done a full session by himself, we will monitor that as it goes,” England scrum coach Neal Hatley told reporters on Tuesday.

The 27-year-old Launchbury, who has 53 caps, was expected to scrum down alongside Maro Itoje in England’s pack.

The tourists will be buoyed by the fact number eight Billy Vunipola took a full part in the session after playing through the last weeks of the domestic season with a persistent hamstring problem.

Vunipola won the last of his 34 England international caps against Ireland in March last year and has been plagued by injuries since.

Reporting by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Ed Osmond

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