DURBAN (Reuters) - England received a major boost ahead of the must-win second test against South Africa when lock Joe Launchbury was passed fit to play, after coming through training on Wednesday.
The Wasps captain missed the 42-39 defeat to the Springboks in the first test at Ellis Park last weekend, with his replacement Nick Isiekwe substituted before half-time in an underwhelming display.
Launchbury is expected to start alongside Maro Itoje in the second row and will boost not only the set-piece, but also the muscle of the pack with the ball in hand.
“Joe Launchbury trained today and trained well,” England forwards coach Steve Borthwick told reporters. “He’s done a great job with his rehabilitation and is available for selection,” he said.
“He’s a big lock 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 and is a very good scrummager.”
It is likely that New Zealand-born lock Brad Shields will again start on the bench after making his debut in the first test.
Wing Jonny May says the side must improve their discipline if they are to level the series at the Free State Stadium and end a run of four straight test defeats dating back to the Six Nations.
England conceded 17 penalties in the first match, allowing the Boks to claw their way back from 24-3 down to win the game.
“We have spoken about discipline before, it isn’t like it’s been brushed over. In the Six Nations it killed us and it was as bad as ever at the weekend,” May said.
“Hopefully we have realised, we should have realised by now, the impact one penalty has on the momentum of a game, let along back-to-back penalties.
“We are guilty of the same things, it’s frustrating sitting here saying the same things again, but we didn’t adapt and learn quick enough on the pitch.”
The third and final test will be played in Cape Town on June 23.
Reporting By Nick Said; Editing by Jon Boyle