England Rugby news: Launchbury fit for second Test against South Africa, Robshaw faces axe | Rugby | Sport

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Robshaw is understood to be under significant pressure for his starting place after the 42-39 loss to the Springboks last weekend as the England coach toys with the idea of promoting Brad Shields to start his first international.

It would represent a rapid promotion for the Hurricanes back row after just 11 days as a squad member, but as Jones was happy enough to throw him on as a replacement for 45 minutes out of position only a week into his time with England, it is eminently possible.

“There were aspects of Chris’s game that went well and, as with all the players, there are aspects that we need to improve on,” said England forwards coach Steve Borthwick yesterday.

“Brad is a vastly experienced player and a very good one. It’s great that we’ve got that versatility and gives us options.

“He’s a fantastic leader, his team-mates have respect for him, people want him on their team. That’s the background we were getting and that’s what I’ve seen in the ten days he’s been with us. He has an incredible workrate – you always want people like that on the pitch.”

Robshaw, described previously by Jones as the “glue” in the England team, has started 22 of the Australian’s 29 games in charge, only previously missing out through injury.

If Robshaw is left out of the starting team, he could miss out on a place in the match 23 entirely with a more dynamic option in Sam Simmonds pushing for a bench spot.

Launchbury’s recovery from a calf strain is timely with England’s strength in depth in the second row being tested on this tour.

Courtney Lawes, George Kruis and Charlie Ewels did not make the trip because of injury and Nick Isiekwe’s early substitution in the first Test was a reminder that, at 20, he remains a work in progress.

Launchbury will not only bring size but also reassuring knowhow to bear against the Springboks at Free State Stadium on Saturday.

“Joe captains Wasps and he’s got loads of international experience so to have him back out there training, being energetic and just hearing his voice driving standards today was very good,” said England scrum-half Ben Youngs.

“Someone like that is a world-class operator and to have him back out on the training pitch is great for us to see and gives us a boost.”

Youngs, who made his England return in the first Test after missing all but ten minutes of the Six Nations, is demanding opposite number Faf de Klerk is shut down this weekend after he ran riot at Ellis Park.

“We can’t defend like we did at the weekend. We were leaving doglegs, we weren’t getting set early enough, our spacing on the ruck was really poor and if you give him that he is going to cause you trouble and he did. He is a livewire,” said Youngs.

“It has been a big focus this week. For whatever reason at the weekend we were way off in that area. If you invite guys like that to run at you it is exactly what they want and he showed if you do that he will pull you about.

“It was the same with Willie le Roux in the wide channels – again we were way too passive. We let him do what he wanted to do.

“We didn’t intend to defend like that. Everything we have trained this week is to get back to the way England defend.”

Youngs’s Leicester team-mate Ellis Genge is almost certainly out of the remainder of the tour after sustaining a knee injury yesterday. Genge, the latest in an alarmingly long line of players to be hurt training with England, was awaiting scan results last night.



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