Launchbury returns for must-win Boks clash
JOE LAUNCHBURY’S sudden, timely recovery from injury has paved the way for Eddie Jones to consider a back-row overhaul for Saturday’s second Test against the Springboks. Wasps lock Launchbury had been unable to train properly since arriving in South Africa and his prospects of being available to play at Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein appeared to be fading. But the 27-year-old was able to take part in sessions yesterday and was cleared for a swift return to action in a Test England must win after defeat in the opener in Johannesburg. There was speculation that Kiwi recruit Brad Shields might have been picked to start in the second row but, with Launchbury (right) now ready to partner Maro Itoje at lock, there is expected to be a reshuffle in the back row. Chris Robshaw, who was unconvincing against the Boks last weekend, is understood to be the man most under threat if Jones opts to start Wasps-bound Hurricanes captain Shields. Asked about how Robshaw had performed at Ellis Park, England forwards coach Steve Borthwick said: ‘I think there were aspects of his game that went well and, as with all the players, there are aspects that we need to improve on.’ On Shields, who made his Test debut off the bench last weekend, Borthwick said: ‘His attributes? Firstly, his strength of character. He’s a fantastic leader, his team-mates have respect for him. Secondly, incredible work-rate.’ Nathan Hughes will be a club-mate of Shields next season and he said: ‘Brad has a lot of talent. I’m looking forward to him coming to Wasps and we’re excited to have him in the team with England.’ Jones names his second Test line-up at lunchtime today.