Sharks sure to be a tougher proposition
JOE Launchbury insists he is enjoying his rugby and ‘is in safe hands’ after criticism that England stars were in danger of suffering from burnout.
Sir Clive Woodward was among the pundits who suggested some of England’s players were running on empty as Eddie Jones’ side limped to a fifthplace finish at the Six Nations.
While many of Ireland’s Grand Slam stars were rested for Guinness Pro14 fixtures the week after the Six Nations, England’s aces were thrust straight back into Aviva Premiership action, including second-row Launchbury who captained Wasps in their 16-15 loss to Leicester Tigers a fortnight ago.
“A lot is made of the season and a lot has been discussed away from us as players, that’s all in safe hands,” said the 26-year-old.
“For me as a player, at the moment I am fortunate that I am enjoying an MUCH has changed since the sundrenched September day when Wasps kicked off the new season with a 50-35 thumping of Sale Sharks, but they will be in for a much tougher test tonight than what Sharks offered at the Ricoh Arena that day.
Dai Young’s men will be hoping to bounce back from the disappointing loss to rivals Leicester Tigers last week but will take heart from being the Premiership’s top away side before George Ford’s boot condemned them to defeat.
There is, for once, some good news from the physio’s room, with Elliot Daly recovering from a dislocated finger suffered at Welford Road and Tommy Taylor set to take a place on the bench for his first Premiership match of the season.
But this still adds up to what could be another tough evening at the AJ Bell Stadium, a ground where Wasps have not won in their last eight visits.
Sale have had an inconsistent season, with nine wins and nine losses in the top-flight, but have won their last two games. injury-free spell and I am out there on the pitch, enjoying playing. That’s fundamentally what I want to do and what I am here to do.
“I can help as much as I can at the weekend, obviously not being involved in Europe we had a chance to freshen up. We knew the break was coming so it’s not really been an issue.”
Launchbury, who featured in all five of England’s Six Nations games, was granted a week off along with his international teammates James Haskell and Elliot Daly.
He took the opportunity for a family break away to the United Arab Emirates and to recharge the batteries after suffering four consecutive defeats for both club and country.
The most recent of those came at Welford Road when Wasps failed to convert a series of chances and lost by a single point as George Ford kicked the Tigers into the play-off reckoning.
“You’ve got to learn off the back of a loss,” said Launchbury.
“It was very frustrating and disappointing. It felt like we were in control for large parts of the game and it didn’t really feel like we were going to concede too many points.
“Obviously they scored from a driving maul again, apart from that, not too much.
“We really needed another try to get ahead and I think if we had scored at any point in that second half, the game would’ve been over but we didn’t unfortunately.
“We kept them in the game, good sides like that can come back in and shows the strength of the Premiership really.
“It’s frustrating, but hopefully lesson learned in terms of how to close out games and how to get across the line.”