Launchbury boost for England

Date published: January 11 2017

England lock Joe Launchbury is set to return from injury in the Champions Cup when Wasps take on Toulouse at the Ricoh Arena.

The 25-year-old, who has been out with a calf issue, was a minor concern for England’s Six Nations opener against France on February 4.

But ahead of clashes with Toulouse and Zebre in the coming weeks, Launchbury’s expected return is a timely lift for both club and country.

“The rehab has gone really well. As soon as I did it I was always really hopeful for this weekend,” the in-form second-row told Sky Sports.

“I’m delighted how it’s gone and how the calf feels, so I’m ready to go again.”

England are without Chris Robshaw and Billy Vunipola for the Six Nations, while James Haskell was injured on his return to the Wasps jersey last weekend. That leaves the door open for Maro Itoje to make a possible shift to the blindside flanker, a move Launchbury thinks he can do.

“Maro is talented enough and has the athleticism to play six, but there’s a whole host of players who can certainly play there,” he added.

“Eddie has spoken about Chris and his value to the team, but as players we have known his value for an extremely long time.

“He’s always the guy who is making a cover tackle in the corner or going the extra yard. He’ll be a massive loss for us, but whoever comes in – just like in November when there were some injuries – I’m sure it’ll be fine.”

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