- “We have to start where we left off against New Zealand” – Launchbury
- Young lock eager to put in “full season” of performances
Photo: Getty Images
Joe Launchbury admits England have some issues to iron out ahead of the RBS 6 Nations, but also believes his team will be tough to beat if they begin the tournament with the same intensity that they showed against New Zealand at Twickenham in November.
Stuart Lancaster’s charges started poorly in this autumn’s QBE International clash with the All Blacks, conceding tries to Julian Savea and eventual IRB Player of the Year Kieran Read during a nervous first quarter.
However, an exceptional performance from the pack – with try-scorer Launchbury prominent – hauled the hosts back into the game, allowing Owen Farrell to kick them into a 22-20 lead with 20 minutes to go.
Highlighting triumphs over Australia and Argentina on the two previous weekends, the 22 year-old lock suggested that a winning mentality is being bred into this England set-up.
“We’re a bunch of young, ambitious guys and we understand that not everything is 100 per cent right but we’re working hard to get there,” he explained.
“In patches throughout the autumn we played some good stuff – we beat two good southern hemisphere sides and then narrowly missed out to the best team in the world. A mark of how far we’ve come is that we were massively disappointed by losing that game.
Photo: Getty Images
“We really thought we were in with a good chance being ahead with 15 or 20 minutes to go. It’s a good sign but we need to keep going – what we don’t want to do now is drop off.
“At the start of February we need to be right up where we left off at the end of the New Zealand game. It’s exciting – my first Six Nations was last year and I’m looking forward to hopefully playing a part again this year.”
England travel to Paris to take on France in the RBS 6 Nations opener on Febuary 1, with Lancaster's side hit by the loss of a number of key player through injury. Passing off the injury concerns in the squad as “an opportunity to see what others can do”, Launchbury turned to his personal hopes.
Having suffered a slight dip in form towards the end of last season – a nadir coming at the Millennium Stadium when Wales de-railed England’s Grand Slam bid with a comprehensive 30-3 defeat – the young London Wasp seemed determined to maintain his fine form into the spring.
“I think the main thing for me is I’m constantly learning – a lot of the things I’m doing, I’m doing them for the first time.
“For me to start my second season in international rugby has been a learning curve. Now I can learn from my experiences – the end of last season wasn’t my best and I want to make sure I put in a full season.”