Launchbury in line for first test start
England head coach Stuart Lancaster is set to change half his forward pack and at least a third of his team for Saturday's QBE international against South Africa.
Lancaster is due to recall loosehead prop Alex Corbisiero, blindside flanker Tom Wood and number eight Ben Morgan when he confirms the starting line-up.
Wasps lock Joe Launchbury has also impressed Lancaster and could make his first Test start in place of Tom Palmer as England look to inject some power and dynamism into their pack. In the backs, Mike Brown is in line to start on the left wing with England planning to employ two full-backs in a bid to combat the Springboks' aerial game.
It was a tactic Lancaster used on the summer tour and Brown would offer England reliability under the high ball and a strong left-footed kicking game to complement the right boot of full-back Alex Goode.
Elsewhere in the side, Ben Youngs is pressing hard for a first start of the autumn campaign at scrum-half and Lancaster is expected to stick by the centre pairing of Brad Barritt and Manu Tuilagi. That would mean Jonathan Joseph returning to the England fold with a place on the bench along with James Haskell and, potentially, the Saracens lock Mouritz Botha.
Five or six changes would be a substantial number following England's 20-14 defeat to Australia but the returns of Corbisiero, Wood and Morgan have been in the pipeline.
Launchbury is seen as England's version of Eben Etzebeth, the 21-year-old South Africa lock described on Wednesday by Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer as their "enforcer".
Morgan's dynamism in the loose was evident through the Six Nations but Lancaster wanted to see more from his power game - making hard yards with the ball and "smashing" opponents backwards when in defence. The England management have been impressed with Morgan's development in that area since he joined Gloucester and believe he can offer a more imposing physical presence at number eight than Thomas Waldrom.
Corbisiero will replace Joe Marler at loose-head after returning to action two weeks ago from the knee injury he suffered on England's summer tour. Marler struggled against Australia and is now injured himself - but Corbisiero is considered England's premier loosehead and was always slated to return when fit.
"I've done everything I can to get myself right and be ready to play. I feel pretty confident in myself," Corbisiero said. "I've had two games. I'm getting my confidence back and I'm aware of what it takes to play at this level."