England lock Launchbury fit for second Test

South Africa v England second Test
Venue: Toyota Stadium,Bloemfontein Date: 16 June Kick-off: 16:05 BST
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio 5 live and live text commentary on the BBC Sport website.

England second row Joe Launchbury has been declared fit to return for the second Test against South Africa in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

The Wasps lock missed last weekend’s 42-39 defeat by the Springboks at Ellis Park with a calf issue.

Launchbury is set to come straight back in to the starting XV, replacing Nick Isiekwe in the forward pack.

“Joe trained very well today, and is fit and available for selection,” said assistant coach Steve Borthwick.

Speaking to BBC Sport, Borthwick added: “Even though he wasn’t available for selection last week, his influence was excellent, which was great credit to him.”

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Meanwhile, England are considering handing a first start to Brad Shields in the back row.

New Zealand-born Shields made his controversial debut off the bench in Johannesburg, replacing Isiekwe after 35 minutes.

‘Shields will brush off noise’

Number eight Nathan Hughes, who himself switched allegiance from Fiji to England in 2016, has backed Shields to deliver if given the opportunity.

“Talking to Brad, we hang out quite a bit, it doesn’t bother him. He has been playing rugby for a long time now, and whatever happens outside he just brushes it off,” Hughes told BBC Sport.

Borthwick added: “While Brad is not experienced at international level, he is a very, very experienced rugby player.

“The first thing that helps him fit in is his character. He has come into this squad, worked extremely hard, and earned the respect of his team-mates.”

England head coach Eddie Jones will announce his side at 11:30 BST on Thursday.

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