Wasps have announced that England second row Joe Launchbury will captain the club for the 2016/2017 season.
Launchbury is now in his seventh season with the club, having joined from Worthing as a 19-year-old in 2009. In his time at Wasps, he has been part of a core group of players under Dai Young that has seen the team going from mid-table obscurity and near-financial oblivion to making the Champions Cup semi-finals and Premiership play-offs.
Wasps’ Director of Rugby, Dai Young, said (via Wasps.co.uk): “Joe is a natural leader around the place and I think he has grown with the responsibility of being a leader and an international over the last couple of seasons. He has already proven himself as a world-class player and I’m sure the captaincy will only help him grow again.”
He went on: “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. They’ve been tremendous for the squad and have really helped to set the standards and I know Joe will have their support 100% as we move forwards.
“Unfortunately, James picked up a nasty injury while playing for England which means he will miss a major chunk of Wasps’ season. That in itself makes it difficult to do the job of captain, but we also want him to be a little bit selfish and focus on himself so he can concentrate all his energy on getting back to full fitness as soon as possible.
“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.”
Although further down the England pecking order thanks to the sterling efforts of Saracens pair Maro Itoje and George Kruis, at one time Launchbury was touted as a future England captain and his appointment at Wasps will help build the case for his future inclusion as a Red Rose leader.
Paul Wassell, Pundit Arena