England vs Scotland Six Nations: Mike Brown winning race to prove fitness for Calcutta Cup clash

England full-back is making progress after being badly concussed against Italy

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The Independent Online

Alex Goode was as committed as any member of the England side in attempting to stem the Irish tide in Dublin last weekend – a tide that left the red-rose visitors all washed up in their search  for a first Grand Slam in a dozen years.

The Saracens full-back will do well to keep his place in the starting line-up for the Calcutta Cup match against Scotland in 10 days’ time, however, now that Mike Brown is on the mend.

Brown missed the Ireland game because of recurring symptoms of concussion – the result of the fearful bang on the head he received in making a try-saving tackle in the early stages of the  victory over Italy on Valentine’s Day.

However, the England head coach, Stuart Lancaster, believes the Harlequins man will be fit to face the Scots after making significant progress in working his way through the “graduated return to play protocols”.

If things go to plan, Lancaster will run the rule over Brown on Friday, when a majority of the players most likely to be involved against the Scots engage in a full-contact training run at the team base in Surrey.

Some of the bench personnel who played little or no rugby in Dublin – the Sale outside-half Danny Cipriani, for example – are likely to be sent back to their clubs for this weekend’s round of Premiership matches, while most of those squad members who did not make the trip across the Irish Sea at all will also be released.

England emerged from Sunday’s bitter disappointment less wounded in body than in spirit. Only Luther Burrell was declared unfit to train when the medics went through their check-up routine on Tuesday – the Northampton centre has a calf strain – so Lancaster is at least in a position to hold some meaningful preparatory sessions in an effort to restore his side’s Six Nations fortunes on their return to Twickenham.

 

One player who will not be seen at Twickenham during this year’s tournament is the France lock Papé, who lost his appeal against suspension on Tuesday and remains banned until the middle  of May.

Papé was given a 10-week enforced rest for driving his knee into the back of the Ireland No 8 Jamie Heaslip in the second round of matches – an assault that left the Lions Test forward nursing three fractured vertebrae.

On the club front, London Irish are fairly hurtling down the southern hemisphere route. Tom Coventry, the New Zealander currently working with the Waikato Chiefs, will soon replace Brian Smith, whose second spell as their director of rugby ended abruptly in January.

On Tuesday, the club confirmed that two more men currently based in All Black country – the Auckland Blues defence strategist Grant Doorey and the Wellington Hurricanes backs specialist Clark Laidlaw – are also to join the staff.

Laidlaw is the son of the Scotland and Lions scrum-half Roy. He moved to New Zealand in 2008 following a playing career in international sevens.

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