Aviva Premiership: Joe Launchbury itching to return for Wasps
England star is in line to return for the new Midlands derby at the Ricoh Arena after six months out through injury
Joe Launchbury admits he is itching to return to action as Wasps prepare to host Leicester Tigers at the Ricoh Arena on Saturday.
Such is the anticipation ahead of the new Midlands derby, the 32,600-capacity venue has already sold out with tickets selling for in excess of £100 on online resale markets.
It’s a must-win if we want to push on and get into the play-offs, so it’s a great chance for us to go out there and play well in front of a full house.
Joe Launchbury on Wasps’ home match against Leicester
Enduring six months out after neck surgery, 24-year-old Launchbury is still waiting for the chance to run out at Wasps’ new home following their relocation from Adams Park in High Wycombe in December.
Dai Young, Wasps’ director of rugby, had pencilled in the England lock for a return at the end of April or beginning of May, and he could finally make his comeback on a momentous day for the club.
And with Wasps chasing a place in the Premiership play-offs and booking their place in next season’s European Champions Cup, Launchbury believes The Stinger is a must-win match with just two rounds of the regular season remaining.
“Not only is it a great occasion in terms of selling the stadium out and playing against our new local rivals, but it’s a game of huge importance,” Launchbury said.
“It’s a must-win if we want to push on and get into the play-offs, so it’s a great chance for us to go out there and play well in front of a full house.
“The players, you can see how much they’ve enjoyed [playing at the Ricoh].
“I’ve obviously missed out on all of the games up there, but I’m itching to get out there and play.”
Not only does Launchbury face a fight to break back into his club side, but time is running out to remind England head coach Stuart Lancaster what he can offer at the Rugby World Cup later this year.
Accepting that others in his position have been playing well in helping the club to a European quarter-final and into the Premiership top six, he concedes that he has to work to do this week if he is to run out at a packed Ricoh Arena on Saturday afternoon.
“Hopefully I’m definitely going to be in line for selection [against Leicester], but no guarantees there,” he added.
“I’ve been out for a long time and the guys have been playing really well, so I guess I’ve got to train hard over the next week and hopefully get in the squad.”