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Wasps captain Joe Launchbury admits regaining England place will be tough

Joe Launchbury accepts that he faces a challenge to force his way back into Eddie Jones' England team.

But the new Wasps captain is ready to meet it head-on, building towards England's autumn Tests and then their defence of the RBS 6 Nations title later this season.

Launchbury has been on the bench for five of England's last six Tests - including all three games during the successful Australia tour in June - as dominant Saracens second-row duo Maro Itoje and George Kruis transferred blistering club form to the international arena.

"They (Itoje and Kruis) have come in and played well and there is no hiding behind that," Launchbury said.

"But I am pleased with the way I am playing and looking forward to trying to get a string of games together here (at Wasps).

"For me, it is a case of playing here and trying to force my hand as much as I can.

"I have been on the other side of that (England selection) and enjoyed it and played well. It is important for me to realise that, and try and do all I can to get back there."

Launchbury has always performed for club and country with a maturity beyond his 25 years, and his enhanced leadership role at Wasps began encouragingly with a 25-20 Aviva Premiership victory over last season's league runners-up Exeter.

"It (captaincy) has certainly got some new bits and pieces. It's an interesting job," he added.

"There are a few more bits and pieces during the week, but come game-day, not much changes really. It is a case of me trying to play as best as I can and put in my own performance, and that's the way I am looking to lead.

"I am not going to stand there ranting and raving at people. I try and set standards myself, and hopefully people will follow.

"For me, so far, I have really enjoyed the added responsibility, and the extra attention to detail you have to have. I am really enjoying it, and I feel like it is helping me.

"It's a different role for me, but one that I probably always wanted to do."

Wasps will be back in Premiership action next Saturday, tackling midlands neighbours Leicester at Welford Road, but midweek matters on the rugby agenda will be dominated by Lions business.

Wales boss Warren Gatland is set to be unveiled on Wednesday as Lions head coach for the second successive tour - New Zealand next summer - after he led them to a 2-1 Test series triumph against Australia three years ago.

And that appointment will inevitably lead to immediate speculation about who might fill Gatland's coaching support staff roles, plus those players in the selection frame at this early stage.

Wasps rugby director Dai Young, a former Lion, is among those being tipped for a possible coaching role, and Launchbury said: "Dai is a great coach.

"His strength is how he deals with the week to week stuff. He has got a really strong relationship with all the players in the (Wasps) squad. He is a great guy and has been here for a number of years now and is very experienced.

"He has been on lots of Lions tours, hasn't he. I am sure like any player, coaches want to coach at the highest level."

And on a possible Lions spot for Launchbury, he added: "It's a long way away. I need to try and play well here at Wasps, play as much as I can and try to get back in the England team.

"I have got to try and bang down the door as hard as I can, and enjoy the extra responsibility I have here in leadership, and try to make that count in my performance."


From Belfast Telegraph