Courtney Lawes England lock in line for South Africa

The Northampton lock has been struggling with a knee injury and was a late withdrawal from the Saints' last two matches.

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England rugby player Courtney Lawes, pictured on June 10, 2016, has been struggling with a knee injury play

England rugby player Courtney Lawes, pictured on June 10, 2016, has been struggling with a knee injury

(AFP/File)
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England hope to have Courtney Lawes fit for their opening end-of-year international against South Africa at Twickenham on Saturday.

The Northampton lock has been struggling with a knee injury and was a late withdrawal from the Saints' last two matches.

But England are increasingly confident he will be able to resume his World Cup second-row partnership with Joe Launchbury in the injury-enforced absence of first-choice locks George Kruis and Maro Itoje.

"Courtney has taken part in training this morning (Monday) and will take part in training this afternoon so we expect him to be fit," said England defence coach Paul Gustard.

Gustard added that England prop Mako Vunipola, who had been struggling with a hip problem, was also in line to be fully fit for this weekend's clash with the Springboks at Twickenham.

"Mako has been training too. We're in a good state of health and ready to continue our preparations for South Africa," Gustard said.

England have won all nine of their Tests since Eddie Jones replaced Stuart Lancaster as coach following the team's first-round exit at last year's World Cup.

But they have not beaten South Africa since 2006, a run that includes 11 defeats and one draw.

Both England and South Africa are due to name their teams on Thursday.

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