Aviva Premiership: Joe Launchbury nearing Wasps comeback

Dai Young believes the England lock's return after almost six months on the sidelines will be like having a new signing

The Sport Review staff
By The Sport Review staff

Joe Launchbury could return for Wasps by the end of April as he steps up his recovery from neck surgery.

The 23-year-old England lock has been sidelined since October with a nerve problem caused by a bulging disc that required surgery, ruling him out of the RBS 6 Nations.

We’ve pencilled in either the Leicester or the Exeter games, so he should be back in either of those games. It will be like having a new signing.

Wasps boss Dai Young on Launchbury’s return

Speaking ahead of Wasps’ European Champions Cup quarter-final against double defending champions Toulon, director of rugby Dai Young revealed that Launchbury is on course to return before the end of the season.

Launchbury faces a race against time to make the England squad for the Rugby World Cup in September, but the club are confident that, if everything goes according to plan when the forward returns to training, he could be back for the Premiership home game against Exeter Chiefs on Sunday 26 April at, or their penultimate league match against Leicester Tigers, also at the Ricoh Arena, on Saturday 9 May.

“Joe is in the final stage of his rehab,” Young said.

“He’s over the worst, but if one or two days don’t quite go to plan it will make a difference in when he’s back

“We’ve pencilled in either the Leicester or the Exeter games, so he should be back in either of those games. It will be like having a new signing.”

Launchbury will miss Wasps’ trip to the south of France to take on Toulon on Sunday, but even with him they would face a tough examination at the Stade Mayol.

If we can get some real tempo and intensity, and ask questions of them, then who knows what can happen?

Dai Young on Wasps’ Champions Cup quarter-final against Toulon

The big-spending Top 14 league leaders have no shortage of talent to draw on, but other clubs in France have proved this season that they are not invincible.

And Young plans to prevent them from controlling the game with a more expansive game plan he would normally deploy in the Premiership, with a potential “home” semi-final at the Amex Stadium in Brighton awaiting them if they can cause the biggest of upsets.

“If this is a slow, set-piece game we’ll lose,” Young added.

“If they are allowed to control the tempo, we don’t have enough to win.

“If we can get some real tempo and intensity, and ask questions of them, then who knows what can happen?

“This is a game we have to try to win. If we sit back and are conservative, there’s only winner.

“Toulon have lost games and they’re not unbeatable, so you have to back yourselves.

“We’ve shown we can upset the best teams. Against these guys we’ll have to play for 80 minutes.

“We just have to go out there and really play.”

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