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Joe Launchbury undergoes fitness test during England training session

The Wasps captain is expected to start the series opener at Ellis Park in the second row alongside Maro Itoje.

Joe Launchbury underwent a fitness check while his England team-mates trained to cast doubt over his availability for Saturday’s first Test against South Africa.

The Wasps captain is expected to start the series opener at Ellis Park in the second row alongside Maro Itoje, but he was unable to practise with the remainder of the squad on Tuesday due to an unspecified injury.

Sam Simmonds, the Exeter number eight, also trained alone at Kings Park in order to perform sprints while watched by a member of England’s medical team before joining his team-mates.

Brad Shields was present for the morning session that took place down the road from the squad’s Umhlanga camp.

The Hurricanes captain and blindside flanker has flown from New Zealand to link up with England for the first time after being included in Eddie Jones’ squad for the three-Test series against the Springboks.

Billy Vunipola played a full part in the session after playing through Saracens’ successful Aviva Premiership play-off campaign with a persistent hamstring problem.

An update on Launchbury and Simmonds is expected when scrum coach Neal Hatley faces the media in Umhlanga on Tuesday afternoon.

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