RUGBY UNION - Launchbury: Next five weeks huge for Wasps season - The Coventry Observer

RUGBY UNION - Launchbury: Next five weeks huge for Wasps season

Coventry Editorial 3rd Feb, 2022   0

CAPTAIN Joe Launchbury insists the next five weeks will be “huge” for Wasps season as the club tries to climb up the Gallagher Premiership table.


Launchbury returned to action against Saracens last weekend after a nine-month spell on the sidelines and played the first 40 minutes at the Coventry Building Society Arena.


And Wasps would go on to record an impressive 26-20 victory to record a fourth win in six matches with several players beginning to return from long-term injuries.


Lee Blackett’s side travel to Exeter Chiefs this weekend in search of just their second win on their travels this season and Launchbury stressed the importance of coming away with the points.


Launchbury said: “This five-game block is massive for us, we’re not going to shy away from that, our intent over the next five weeks is a huge part of our season and we’re really excited for it.


“Our challenge is to be consistent week on week, we know how good we can be, we’ve proved we can mix it with the best, not only in England but in Europe as well.


“Exeter is a fantastic place to go and play rugby, there’s always a good crowd there, whether they’ve got their international players or not, they’re an extremely well-coached side.


“It’s going to be a big battle up front, it’s a big challenge playing away at Chiefs, but it’s a huge opportunity for us over the next few weeks.”


The skipper led by example during the first-half against Saracens and was delighted to finally make his return to competitive action.


Launchbury added: “It was great to finally be back out there, it’s been the target now for a few weeks, to be back at home was quite nice as well.


“It was a bit of a shock at the start of the week, I thought I’d originally be on the bench but Lee [Blackett] tapped me on Monday and said ‘We’d love you to start the game and get us to half-time.’


“That was always the plan, it went really well, I really enjoyed being back out there and, most importantly, my knee felt good as well.


“There were certainly a few more nerves in the 24 hours before the game, I’m normally pretty good with nerves if I’ve ticked off what I want to do in the week.


“I had to change my boots last minute, I wore white boots for the first time in a number of years, that certainly took my mind off my knee and was probably a blessing in disguise.”


And Launchbury now hopes he can repay the medical team and the club in the coming weeks, having been well looked after during his battle with injury.


He said: “Like Lee said, we’re pretty lucky, we’ve got a great medical team who I’ve got to thank massively for everything they’ve done for me over the last nine months, they put you in the best place.


“But nothing can quite prepare you for a double Vunipola tackle and there were a few of those at the weekend, my neck was a bit stiff and sore in the morning.


“Physically, I felt as good as I could do going into the game, I’m hopeful my match fitness will keep coming back over the next couple of weeks and hopefully I’ll be on the pitch longer and get back to where I want to be.


“The opportunity to be back playing for the club again after a long period of time of them looking after me extremely well, I’m looking forward to replaying that over the next few weeks.”


Wasps clash with Exeter takes place on Saturday, February 5 with kick-off at 2.30pm at Sandy Park.

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