JOE Launcbury has described being appointed as the new captain of Wasps for the 2016/17 season as a ‘massive honour’.
The England international is entering his seventh season at Wasps and he will replace the injured James Haskell as skipper.
Haskell is closing in on a century of appearances for Wasps having joined from Worthing as a 19-year-old in 2009.
He has been an integral part of the core group of young English players coming through at the club over the past few seasons and has gone on to win 35 caps for his country, in addition to the 91 appearances for his club.
“It’s a massive honour to have been named captain and something I am very excited about,” said Launchbury.
“Wasps is a club I’ve been at for a number of years now and I’ve played under some great captains during that time, so I’ve learnt a lot from them, particularly most recently from Matt Mullan and James Haskell who have been two great captains for us.
“I know they will be a massive help to me over the next 12 months and it’s a role I’m really excited about. We have a squad packed full of talent so it’s now important we hit the season running.”
Wasps director of rugby Dai Young said Launchbury had grown into a natural leader in recent years and his performances on the international stage have proven that he is now a world class player.
Young added: “We need to grow the group and there’s an opportunity for all our young guys coming through, headed by Launchers, to really develop as leaders as well.
“Great teams don’t only rely on one or two leaders, they have five or six and that’s what we’re also trying to do.
“Joe has tremendous role models to follow in James Haskell and Matt Mullan, who have been outstanding for us. They’ve done a fantastic job and we obviously want them to retain a leadership role.
“Unfortunately, James picked up a nasty injury while playing for England which means he will miss a major chunk of Wasps’ season.
“We’ve been fortunate to have had some fantastic captains during my time here with Hask, Matt, Chris Bell, Hugo Southwell and John Hart and I’m sure Joe will be excellent for us as well.
“As well as being an incredibly talented player, he has the respect of the entire squad and coaching staff and will really help to drive standards.
“When Joe re-signed with Wasps a couple of seasons ago, the picture wasn’t quite as bright for the club as it is now and he was wanted by most teams in Europe.
“He put his faith in me and the potential of the squad, and believed in the vision Derek and I had for the club. That showed tremendous commitment and loyalty to the club and his team mates. It’s players like that you want forming the backbone of a team and taking the club forwards.”