England confident of bouncing back despite injuries to Barritt and Brown

ENGLAND coach Stuart Lancaster expects his squad to be ready to take revenge on South Africa after losing Saturday’s Test 22-17 in Durban, citing their performance as sufficient cause for optimism.

After an even first-half in which England looked capable of victory, the Springboks’ forwards began to dominate to inspire victory in the first of a three-Test series.

Lancaster, however, whose squad had had more time together than the Springboks and must now prepare for a second Test at altitude in Johannesburg on Saturday without injured centre Brad Barritt, remains confident of success, even if his task now appears significantly harder.

“The boys are disappointed because they lost,” said Lancaster. “They want to win, that is the primary emotion at the moment.

“But when we look back on it, at half-time we were definitely in a positive mindset and we felt we had the better of the first half, even though it was 6-6.

“The boys are certainly very positive and the good thing is we have already seen one or two areas we can fix up.

“The players are talking about it already and that is good. They are not downcast and they are feeling there is no chance of turning up next week and not winning.

“If anything, this will be their motivation to right the wrongs we did in this game.”

Barritt suffered a lacerated eyeball and is consequently unavailable to play any part on Saturday, even though the injury has been successfully operated on and will make a return for the third.

Fullback Mike Brown, conversely, sustained a fracture and ligament damage to his thumb and has been replaced by Nick Abendanon.