England v South Africa: Courtney Lawes fit to play says Lancaster

A member of the England medical team escorts Courtney Lawes from the pitch after he sustained a blow to the head in the defeat by New Zealand
Courtney Lawes had to come off in the first half after taking a knock to the head against New Zealand
Autumn international - England v South Africa
Date: Saturday 15 November Kick-off: 14:30 GMT Venue: Twickenham
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 live and full live text commentary online. Highlights on BBC Three at 19:00 GMT.

England head coach Stuart Lancaster has defended his decision to name Courtney Lawes in his starting XV to face South Africa on Saturday.

The lock, 25, failed the pitchside concussion assessment after receiving a second blow to the head during last weekend's 24-21 defeat by New Zealand.

But he completed the recently introduced 'return to play' protocol this week and has been cleared to play.

"The whole process has been ratified at the highest level," Lancaster said.

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"And we've got to trust the process. He and I and the medical team and everyone feel very happy that he's ready to play.

"Certainly from my dealings with Courtney this week, he's been symptom-free from Sunday really.

"But he's gone through the graduated return to play - cycling, running, non-contact skills. He's ticked every box, so it's pretty comprehensive."

Lawes said the "splitting headache" he felt after the New Zealand game had cleared up the following day.

"To be honest I've never had symptoms the day after a game," Lawes said. "I didn't have any memory loss over the weekend.

Recent England v South Africa matches
England 15-16 South Africa, Twickenham, November 2012
South Africa 14-14 England, Port Elizabeth, June 2012
South Africa 36-27 England, Johannesburg, June 2012
South Africa 22-17 England, Durban, June 2012
England 11-21 South Africa, Twickenham, November 2010

"I went off and obviously had a big egg on my head, which was quite painful, and I failed the numbers test that you have to do."

Lawes explained that the numbers test involves the player being given four numbers before being asked to recite them in reverse. The process is then repeated with five numbers and then six.

"Basically, I failed it because I couldn't concentrate - because of the big egg on my head," he said.

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