Lancaster expects duo to feature

Published: Monday 10th November 2014 by The News Editor

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England head coach Stuart Lancaster is “optimistic” that Courtney Lawes and Dylan Hartley will pass concussion tests in time to face South Africa in Saturday’s QBE International at Twickenham.

The Northampton forwards took blows to the head in the 24-21 defeat by New Zealand, Lawes departing on the first quarter mark and Hartley lasting until the final 10 minutes.

The pair will undergo the graduated return to play protocols in place for concussion but Lancaster expects them to have been passed fit by the time he announces his team on Thursday morning.

“Courtney is symptom-free so hopefully he will be okay. Dylan has also got bit of a head knock and is in the same situation,” Lancaster said.

“They need to train on Thursday to be ready. They will do a cog Test on Thursday morning which they have to pass to train.

“We will have provisions in place should they fail that, but we are optimistic will be available.”

Lock Dave Attwood (knee), wing Semesa Rokoduguni (hip) and centre Kyle Eastmond (illness) will miss Monday afternoon’s training session but should be involved in the remainder of the week.

England are nursing a deep sense of frustration after allowing a 14-11 half-time lead to deteriorate into a fifth successive defeat at the hands of the All Blacks and Lancaster admits no punches were pulled during Monday morning’s review.

“The review was honest and pretty straight. We didn’t gloss over anything and we know we have got to improve against South Africa,” Lancaster said.

“We were up at half-time and deserved to be in that position, but obviously we were pretty hard on ourselves in not taking the opportunities we should have done.

“We know that at this level if you don’t take those opportunities they can sometimes come back and hurt you. Clearly that was the case in the second half.

“New Zealand played well in the second half and we didn’t play as well. Our kicking game wasn’t good enough and put us under some pressure.

“New Zealand managed that period well when they turned the ball over and that period that led to their try by Richie McCaw was disappointing.”

South Africa are reeling after their 29-15 defeat by Ireland on Saturday and Lancaster is braced for the backlash.

“There will be a reaction from South Africa this weekend, I don’t doubt it. Ireland deserved the win,” Lancaster said.

Published: Monday 10th November 2014 by The News Editor

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