England lock Joe Launchbury has been given a clean bill of health after alarm was raised over a back injury sustained during Friday’s World Cup send-off. Italy were thumped 37-0 at St James’ Park but Launchbury’s first-half exit took the shine off the third victory of the summer’s four warm-up Tests.
Forwards coach Steve Borthwick insists the Wasps captain will be ready for the World Cup opener against Tonga on September 22. “Joe Launchbury came off with a back injury but there’s nothing concerning there. Joe will recover from the flight and will be good to go,” Borthwick said.
Mako Vunipola (hamstring) and Jack Nowell (ankle) are on schedule to play in the key pool games against Argentina and France, while Henry Slade (knee) could face Tonga. England’s first full day at their training camp in Miyazaki was partially taken up by a community visit to a local high school, where a brass band played ‘We Will Rock You’ by Queen as the players sat on stage.
Hundreds of children watched as fly-half George Ford exchanged passes with the captain of the school team before gifts were exchanged and Borthwick gave a short speech in Japanese. “I said it’s great to be here in Japan and we’ll do our very best at the World Cup. I thanked them for their support,” Borthwick said.
“The players are enjoying it. It’s a great training camp here in Miyazaki. I know that from my previous experience coaching with Japan at the last World Cup. You couldn’t have asked for better facilities and the players have enjoyed how we’ve started.
(Continue reading below…)
“The first period of time will be spent recovering from the journey because there’s the jet-lag factor. Then we’ll have another push in terms of our fitness. We’ll focus on our conditioning for the next couple of games. We’ll move into game prep at the appropriate time. There are a few days here that give us a really good opportunity to do some work.”
England’s arrival into Tokyo on Monday was hit by a five-hour delay leaving the airport due to the fallout from Typhoon Faxai, which had battered the Japanese capital the previous night. “There was a bit of disruption, but people were very good around the airport. They gave us access to the lounge because they knew we’d been held up,” Borthwick said.
“We stayed on the plane for a period of time and then went into the lounge. There was also a little delay outside at the airport so the boys started an impromptu game of cricket.”
– Press Association
WATCH: The RugbyPass stadium guide to Sapporo where England will open their World Cup campaign against Tonga
Sign up to our mailing list here and we’ll keep you up to the minute with weekly updates from the world of rugby.