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Dai Young backs Wasps lock Joe Launchbury for England skipper role

Published 25/11/2015

Joe Launchbury, centre, has been tipped as England's next captain by his Wasps boss Dai Young
Joe Launchbury, centre, has been tipped as England's next captain by his Wasps boss Dai Young

Bookies' favourite Joe Launchbury is the perfect man to captain England under Eddie Jones, according to Dai Young.

Wasps boss Young has tipped lock Launchbury as the ideal candidate to replace Chris Robshaw as the build up starts towards World Cup 2019.

New England boss Jones wants his captain to be both assured of his place and young enough to excel at the next World Cup, leaving 24-year-old Launchbury right in the running.

Former Cardiff and Wales captain Young believes Launchbury can emulate Wales talisman Sam Warburton by moving from rookie Test skipper to world leader.

"I see real leadership skills in Joe and you've got four years to build it," said Young of Launchbury, who has been installed as the favourite for the captaincy among bookmakers.

"That's important. You pick your captain now and build his experience as a captain, building that trust from coach to captain, building that understanding of what the coaching team would want in certain areas and making certain decisions.

"So certainly from my point of view I think he ticks all the boxes and I support him 150 per cent."

Wasps rugby director Young was coaching Cardiff Blues when Warren Gatland installed flanker Warburton as Wales captain in 2011.

The 48-year-old did not hesitate to commend Warburton's captaincy skills back then, and will do likewise with Launchbury should Jones get in touch.

Warburton became Wales' second-youngest captain at 22 in 2011, and has since progressed to lead the British and Irish Lions.

Young sees few limits to Launchbury's potential, and even feels the physical lock would step up another gear on receiving the Test armband.

"I was in a similar position at Cardiff when I had a phone call from Warren Gatland about Sam Warburton," said Young.

"You could recognise he knew the game inside-out and he was going to be there or thereabouts on selection, consistently over the next four years.

"You'd say the same for Joe. He knows the game, has been a part of it from a young age and shows the right qualities you want from a captain.

"I see a lot of similarities with Sam. Both are very sensible, don't go chasing the limelight, don't do things that will draw attention.

"Joe leads from the front, and doesn't speak for the sake of it.

"It's a role Joe would grow into and get better all the time until he's a natural.

"To me he's somebody the players would get right behind and I think he would be a great choice.

"I think he would make a great England captain.

"One of the greatest England captains, Martin Johnson, he didn't speak for the sake of it.

"When he spoke people listened. I think Joe would be very similar."

Former Australia and Japan boss Jones cited Richie McCaw's hunger in training, sprinting between drills, and humility afterwards, in cleaning changing rooms, as just as vital to the All Black's fine captaincy as his razor-sharp back-row nous.

Young believes Launchbury already boasts a similar mindset, that England could harness in their post-World Cup rebuilding job.

"That is Joe, he sets the right standards," said Young, when asked to draw the comparison with Jones' comments on McCaw.

"His preparation in training, the way he is about the place, everyone sees that, and he ticks all the boxes."

If Robshaw struggled under the weight of expectation amid England's premature World Cup exit, Young believes Launchbury would cope with the added leadership pressure.

"It is a job that will rock you when you step into it," said Young.

"I'm not sure anyone is ready until you do it.

"But the more responsibility put on Joe, the more he rises to it."

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