银河娱乐网投官网:The relaunch of Joe Launchbury is music to Stuart Lancaster’s ears

时间:2019-07-20 责任编辑:宫谡 来源:银河网投官网 点击:271 次

Some time on Saturday afternoon Joe Launchbury will leave the replacements’ bench at the Ricoh Stadium in Coventry and play . If all goes well in the following 20 or 30 minutes, Stuart Lancaster will heave a sigh of relief.

Not a lot has been going right for the England head coach recently. On 20 May he has to announce the squad of 45 for World Cup training and there have been plenty of complications.

For a start, and the Leicester centre’s return to fitness, targeted for December, January and then February, has been put back beyond the end of the season, giving just three games and England’s summer camp for Tuilagi to ready himself to meet Fiji in England’s first World Cup match on 18 September.

Then there have been those siren voices who continue to plead , two who have chosen to play in France and thus put themselves beyond an England call up barring the “exceptional circumstances” clause which Lancaster has in his pocket should he want to use it. So far he has shown no signs of wavering, but the fates do conspire. How else do you explain first Armitage and then – this week – Abendanon being ? Rugby’s gods clearly have a mean streak.

All of which is why Lancaster will have been enormously relieved that Launchbury’s spine, an ongoing problem which became too much to bear in October after the game against Harlequins and which resolutely refused to heal, is up to playing rugby again. Put simply, England’s head coach will know that, arguably, his most influential forward is back in the game.

With the competing arguments of Dan Cole, Courtney Lawes and Chris Robshaw, that may sound as though I’m pitching Launchbury’s case a bit high, but look at how England have played with and without the Wasps lock and the evidence is conclusive.

There have been injuries, of course, but since Launchbury got off the bench for his the quality of his play has improved relentlessly. He was made man of the series that autumn, following it up with the most impressive of Six Nations and, if the summer trip to New Zealand was something of an anticlimax, then it could probably be put down to near exhaustion at the end of a breakthrough season. That Six Nations in particular showed what I’m on about.

With Lawes, of Northampton, alongside the Wasps man, England looked to have a world-class second row. Suddenly worries about injuries to others, notably Geoff Parling, all but vanished. It was hard to put your finger on the precise difference Launchbury made because there were so many. Launchbury, pre-October, had very few faults. His lineout, standing at the front, his scrummaging, his ball-carrying, work in the loose and in the tackle were all impressive, but the quality which stood out was the way he improved those around him.

In the 2003 World Cup-winning England side, it was Richard Hill who added that X-factor. Lawrence Dallaglio and Neil Back may have caught the eye, but ask anyone around at that time and it was Hill who received the plaudits for quietly going about his business, making it easier for others.

Likewise, Launchbury is not “television” but there will be plenty in the England team, notably Robshaw and Tom Wood, who will be relieved at his return because, especially during that 2014 Six Nations, it was the Wasp who brought things together. The back five may not have been packed with stars in the manner of Armitage but it didn’t need them because the collective was so effective.

With the athleticism of Lawes and Launchbury in the second row, the combined work rate of the back five, along with the ball-carrying of a mobile front row, was so impressive that few pointed to Robshaw’s shortcoming as a traditional No7 in the Armitage mould or thought about drafting in James Haskell to add a bit of zip at No6.

I doubt that whatever Launchbury does against Leicester at the Ricoh (in front of a packed crowd of 32,000) will affect the clamour for Armitage to be named in Lancaster’s World Cup training squad, but the head coach will understand that what the 25-year-old should add to his side could make the Toulon flanker’s qualities less relevant.

If things go well for Wasps it could prolong Launchbury’s abbreviated season – Wasps are sixth in the Premiership, three points behind Leicester in fourth place, and a win at the Ricoh would do wonders for their play-off chances – which would please England’s head coach even more. However, even without that extension, Launchbury has four games and that extended England camp to make himself ready for the World Cup, which should, hopefully, be more than enough.

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