England and Wasps lock Joe Launchbury was probably the most high profile and surprising omission from Warren Gatland’s British and Irish Lions squad when it was announced last month.
The towering second row was one of the standout players of England’s successful Six Nations campaign this spring and the assumption was that he would have been one of the first names on Gatland’s team sheet for the summer tour of New Zealand.
Now, two weeks on from the announcement and a mere four weeks from the start of the highly anticipated tour, BT Sports caught up with Launchbury to talk about his omission and how he plans to move on.
As the subject was broached, the 26-year-old was candid about his feelings,
“Anyone who missed out would be lying if they said there weren’t disappointed and I am certainly no different.
“But I knew the competition, I knew how tough it would be to get in the squad and the quality of players in my position but obviously for the first couple of days I was disappointed.”
As he had previously stated following the announcement of the 41-man squad, Launchbury pointed to the selection of his Wasps teammate Elliot Daly as a great achievement and how he was ‘absolutely delighted’ for a man he always felt ‘deserved more international recognition’.
Asked about his feelings on why he wasn’t picked by Gatland and his coaching team, Launchbury reveals,
“I spoke to Steve [Borthwick] and he told me I was close and to come back and keep playing and training hard and that’s certainly what I will be looking to do.
“I’d like to think I didn’t mope around too much and got on with it, maybe they [teammates and family] will tell me different.”
As Lions preparation continue, Wasps are currently focusing on the crunch Aviva Premiership clash with current champions Saracens as they bid to secure a home semi-final berth ahead of the title play-off matches.
The table topping Coventry based side will be relying on Launchbury to be at his very best for the visit of the European heavyweights, both to ensure his side remain at the summit of the table and also to reiterate his Lions credentials, should he be needed over the course of the grueling ten-match tour.
Gary Brennan, Pundit Arena
On the Oval Office rugby podcast this week, we hear from Gordon D’Arcy and Nick Evans, and talk PRO12, Premiership and Lions midfield.