x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Joe Launchbury and Geoff Parling fit for England's Six Nations rugby showdown with Wales

Joe Launchbury and Geoff Parling have been declared fit for England in their Grand Slam showdown with Wales on Saturday in the Six Nations tournament.

England will be reinforced for their Six Nations showdown with host Wales thanks to the return of Joe Launchbury, above, and Geoff Parling.
England will be reinforced for their Six Nations showdown with host Wales thanks to the return of Joe Launchbury, above, and Geoff Parling.

England coach Stuart Lancaster was relieved to be in a position to field his strongest possible team for Saturday's Grand Slam showdown with Wales after Joe Launchbury and Geoff Parling passed late fitness tests.

Launchbury injured his elbow in England's 18-11 win against Italy and Parling suffered a stinger in his shoulder, but both locks came through examination session yesterday to seal their places in the team. Owen Farrell has also recovered from injury to reclaim the fly-half jersey as one of four changes Lancaster has made for the Six Nations title decider.

Tom Croft will start at blindside flanker in only his seventh appearance since returning to action after recovering from a broken neck that almost left him paralysed.

Farrell missed the game against Italy with a thigh strain but he was deemed fit on Monday.

"I am delighted Owen is fit - he is a big-game player - and the pleasing thing is both our second rows came through," Lancaster said.

"Geoff had that bang on his shoulder and neither he nor Joe trained on Tuesday. "It is great for them to play the final game. They have been great for us in this championship."

For Wales, Gethin Jenkins has been declared to captain the side at the Millennium Stadium.

Jenkins shrugged off a calf-muscle problem that ruled him out of last weekend's win over Scotland and will win his 98th cap as he replaces Paul James in the front-row and takes leadership duties from flanker Ryan Jones.

The Toulon prop's presence is a big boost for Wales, who will retain the Six Nations title if they win by eight points or more against an England side chasing a first Grand Slam since 2003. "His leadership will be invaluable," coach Rob Howley said.

 

twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE