Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

England were pleased to welcome stalwart lock Joe Launchbury back to full training here, but they know that unless they find a way to blunt the effectiveness of Springbok scrumhalf Faf de Klerk they will be in trouble regardless of who lines up for them in Bloemfontein.

Launchbury missed the opening Test due to a calf problem. He was said to be an unlikely starter on Tuesday, but on Wednesday he got stuck in with his teammates.

Launchbury had "trained well", England forwards coach Steve Borthwick said.

"He has done a great job with his rehabilitation and will be available for selection," Borthwick said.

Launchbury’s physical presence will be welcomed by England, as will his experience. He made his first start for England in a Twickenham Test match against the Boks nearly six years ago and has since become an important player for them.

He is likely to partner Maro Itoje in the second row.

"Having a player of Joe’s quality available is great. He has been brilliant around the squad this tour even though he hasn’t been playing," said Borthwick of the Wasps captain.

"He is a big lock but also very talented. You can see his ability both in the loose and in the tight. He’s also very good in the maul, both on attack and defence. He is also a top scrummager. He will make a big difference for us."

Borthwick, like England’s scrum coach Neal Hatley the day before, insists that England are in a good space and are confident ahead of the second Test despite losing in Johannesburg.

However, there will have to be a noticeable lift for England in several areas, and their starting scrumhalf from the first Test, Ben Youngs, says a big part of that will have to be a much improved defensive effort, particularly against his opposite number, De Klerk.

"We know that to keep Faf quiet we can’t defend like we did at the weekend," said Youngs.

"We were awful the way we organised defensively against him. We gave him dog legs, we gave him so much space. Unless you get set early and cut down his time and space you are in trouble. If you do that he will bully you, and he did that last weekend," Youngs said.

"It is the same with Willie le Roux in the wide channels. We were way too passive on defence. Everything we have trained on this week is to get ourselves back to the way the England team should be defending, and a big part of that will be to deny those two players the space they enjoyed at Ellis Park," he said.

Youngs conceded that the conception might be easier than the execution, as it was also the plan for last week.

"Lots of guys know him [De Klerk] from Sale and he is a rea-lly lively player, so we had spoken about him a lot during the week. We didn’t put into practice what we had worked on and we also didn’t execute the messages coming from the sidelines. That was extremely frustrating," said the England scrumhalf.

"Both Faf and Le Roux are players we know we have to keep quiet as they were absolutely key to turning it around for the Boks last week."

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