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England Head Coach Lancaster "optimistic" that Lawes and Hartley will face South Africa

Courtney Lawes could now face South Africa Credit: PA

England Head Coach Stuart Lancaster is "optimistic" that Northampton Saints forwards Courtney Lawes and Dylan Hartley will be fit to face South Africa on Saturday.

There were serious concerns over Lawes in particular, who was forced to come off in the defeat to New Zealand with concussion.

Dylan Hartley took a blow to the head against the All Blacks. Credit: PA

Both players will still need to pass concussion tests in order to feature at Twickenham.

"Courtney is symptom-free so hopefully he will be okay. Dylan has also got bit of a head knock and is in the same situation.

They need to train on Thursday to be ready. They will do a cog test on Thursday morning which they have to pass to train.

We will have provisions in place should they fail that, but we are optimistic they will be available."

– Stuart Lancaster, England Head Coach

Saints star Burrell "almost certain" to miss New Zealand clash

Luther Burrell has effectively been ruled out of the first test. Credit: PA

England Head Coach Stuart Lancaster has admitted that Northampton Saints centre Luther Burrell is "almost certain" to miss the first test with New Zealand at Twickenham.

The 26-year-old injured his hand in Saturday's European Champions Cup win over Ospreys, and he has now effectively been ruled out of England's first test of the autumn in 10 days time.

Burrell won't be facing New Zealand this autumn. Credit: PA

Burrell will now visit a specialist to determine whether he can make any of the remaining games in the series, with England also taking on South Africa, Samoa and Australia.

"He's still in the equation further down the line. He's definitely not out the series. We'll see how he goes.

If the specialist is positive, then potentially he could come back into camp next week, but he won't have done any of the work."

– Stuart Lancaster, England Head Coach


Northampton Saints star North hoping to end Ospreys' unbeaten run

George North in action for Northampton Saints against Gloucester earlier this season. Credit: PA

Northampton winger George North will come up against some familiar faces tomorrow when the Saints host Ospreys in the European Champions Cup.

North used to play for the welsh side's rivals the Scarlets and is international teammates with many of their squad.

The Ospreys are unbeaten this season, but North is hopeful of bringing that run to an end at Franklin's Gardens.

"It's a tough fixture as they're coming here full of confidence and have won all their games this year, but we need to get a win to keep alive our hopes in Europe."

– George North, Northampton Saints

North knows better than most the threat that the Ospreys have at their disposal and singled out half-back pairing Rhys Webb and Dan Biggar for special praise.

Dan Biggar has been in fine form for Ospreys. Credit: PA

"I think you have to look at Rhys Webb and Dan Biggar.

They're playing very well this year and they control the game exceptionally well."

– George North, Northampton Saints

Northampton Saints v Ospreys, European Rugby Champions Cup, Saturday 25 October, 17:15pm


Northampton Saints dealt Corbisiero injury blow

Alex Corbisiero has been ruled out until "early 2015." Credit: PA

Northampton Saints have been dealt a blow with the news that England prop Alex Corbisiero has been ruled out until "early 2015."

The 26-year-old had to come off in Saturday's win over Bath after picking up a shoulder injury.

Scans have now revealed that Corbisiero has suffered a ligament tear which will require surgery.

It means that the former London Irish man will also miss England's autumn internationals, alongside other key front players Tom Youngs, Mako Vunipola and Dan Cole who are also set for spells on the sidelines.

George North: "Wasps defeat was an eye-opener for Northampton Saints"

George North in action for Northampton Saints against Gloucester earlier this season. Credit: PA

Northampton Saints star George North says his side won't dwell on last weekend's surprise defeat to Wasps.

The reigning Premiership champions lost for the first time this season at Adams Park, but North is hopeful of putting things right on Sunday at Newcastle Falcons.

"Obviously Gloucester went so well, and when you go down to Wasps, it's a completely different atmosphere and a different game.

But for us, it was a bit of an eye-opener and we'll take that on the chin and work on the next one."

– George North, Northampton Saints

Newcastle Falcons v Northampton Saints, Aviva Premiership, Sunday 21 September, 2pm

  1. Donovan Blake

Northampton no longer 'rabbits in headlights' - Tom Wood

Northampton Saints and England forward Tom Wood believes the fear factor has gone out of their squad as they chase a League and European Cup double at Twickenham today (Saturday)

The Saints bid for their 1st Aviva Premiership title to add to the Amlin Challenge Cup secured last week against Bath.

"I think we've matured a lot as a team," said Wood. "I think we've gone there before and I think we've got the hurt of the last four years behind us spurring us on.

"We've recruited well, and we've a couple of British Lions come into the team which has added some firepower to the team.

"We've been developing our culture behind the scenes. I think we're starting to see the rewards of that out on the pitch.

"We've been a little bit 'rabbits in headlights' at times. We've had a lot of success in getting to finals and semi-finals but not quite known how to control those big days

"I'd like to think we're in a slightly better place now."

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