Joe Launchbury: England will not take foot off the gas

 

Joe Launchbury has exceeded his own expectations during a remarkable  season and is determined to sign off on a victorious note as England hunt a 2-0 Test series win against Argentina.

This time last year, he was training on his own at Wasps, recovering from the knee injury which had forced him home just days into England’s tour of South Africa.

Fast forward 12 months and the 22-year-old lock is England’s player of the year, the owner of a Land Rover he cannot even drive yet and on the brink of winning his 11th Test cap in Buenos Aires.

What beckons after that is a month off, a spot of village cricket and some driving lessons, but Launchbury warned the Pumas, beaten 32-3 in Salta last weekend, that neither he nor England are in holiday mode yet.

“People may look at it and think we are winding down but we are not at all,” he said. “It is a massive challenge for us and we want to be the first England team to come out here and win a Test series with a clean sweep. We don’t want to go off on our holidays now on a sour note.

“They are a very good forward pack and they have a lot to offer in that area, with their set piece and their physicality. They started to show, in the second half last week, what they can do. We understand that completely and we are going to have to raise our game a couple of levels again in order to get the result we want.”

Launchbury has been raising his game week on week since he burst on to the international scene in the autumn, with his debut off the bench against Fiji. By the time England ended that campaign with a record victory over New Zealand, Launchbury had established himself in the second row and was voted player of the series.

He was named England’s player of the year by his colleagues in May and collected a gleaming new motor after being named the Aviva Premiership’s Young Player of the Year. Even the biggest setback of all, England’s 30-3 defeat to Wales, is beginning to feel like a positive experience.

“I have had a fantastic year playing for England,” Launchbury said. “If I am being brutally honest it is one that I did not expect. You set your own  individual goals as an athlete and try hard to make them achievable and try to fulfil them.

“I will be honest and say that I have exceeded mine. I have enjoyed this year massively. I have loved every  opportunity and hopefully I have made the most of them.

“The last three weeks out here have been fantastic, getting away with your country and touring in a new environment with a different set of lads. That’s hopefully brought me on as a player as well.”

England were going for the Grand Slam in Cardiff but they were blown away by a Welsh side inspired by a cauldron of noise and patriotism. “It was a brutal game and completely  not what we expected at all,” Launchbury said.

“On the day, and in the weeks after, it was very hard dealing with what  happened. Now we have sat back, I think it is going to help us grow massively as individuals.

“I don’t think I quite expected what was going to happen over there. They do love their rugby and the atmosphere was second to none. It is something that will live with me for a long time. Sometimes you need these setbacks in order to push forward.

“We know when we go back to Wales, or a hostile environment, we are going to be ready for it.”

England will feature two changes for today’s second Test against a depleted Argentina side. The London Irish winger Marland Yarde will make his debut and Kyle Eastmond will take over at inside centre from Billy Twelvetrees after his call-up to the Lions squad in Australia.

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor