Six Nations: England lock Joe Launchbury relieved to be able to focus on France clash after

Launchbury spent time last week fearing for the safety of Sam Woodhead, the British teenager who went missing in the Australian outback

England lock Joe Launchbury is relieved to have his mind fully back on rugby matters ahead of France's arrival at Twickenham for Saturday's RBS 6 Nations showdown.

Launchbury spent time last week fearing for the safety of Sam Woodhead, the British teenager who went missing in the Australian outback for three days.

Woodhead was eventually found on Friday "within hours of death", a relief to his sister, Emma, who is a friend of Launchbury's from his days at Christ's Hospital School in Horsham.

"It was a very big worry for them but luckily he was safe so it ended up well," Launchbury said.

"It was a relief to hear he was alright."

Launchbury's focus is now on Saturday's clash with France, who have recorded their worst start to a championship campaign in 31 years with the defeats by Italy and Wales.

England, conversely, launched their Six Nations with victories over Scotland at home and Ireland in a Dublin arm-wrestle two weekends ago.

The French may be an unpredictable entity but whatever else they do this weekend, the forward battle will be monumental.

And Launchbury is relishing the prospect of his first Anglo-French Test as England look to take a step closer to their Grand Slam dream.

"The rivalry between the two nations is quite an important and special one," Launchbury said.

"It is exciting for me to play a part in that and I'm looking forward to the weekend, for all that comes with the game, off the pitch as well as on it.

"The Ireland game was a real physical challenge and a hard game. International rugby is like that and I'm getting used to it now, but it is tough. I really enjoyed it.

"You know what to expect from the French - a nice physical challenge up front. They pride themselves on their scrum and lineout, and their backs can score tries from anywhere."

Launchbury has risen rapidly through the ranks at Wasps, where he found the influence of former France flanker Serge Betsen invaluable, and has replicated that with England.

"Betsen is one of the nicest guys in world rugby and he was great to me in my first year, he really helped me out and gave me my first steps in rugby."

After making his debut off the bench against Fiji in November, Launchbury was named England's player of the QBE autumn campaign.

He is keeping Courtney Lawes out of the England second row and is already being talked up as a potential British and Irish Lion.

"At every club and every team across the country, and especially at international level, you are constantly looking over your shoulder at your team-mates," he said.

"As a new guy coming in, it is important to not just play well at the weekend but also train well during the week."

Head coach Stuart Lancaster will confirm his starting line-up to play France this morning, with three changes expected from the 12-6 win against Ireland.

Manu Tuilagi is set to return to the midfield in place of Billy Twelvetrees with Dylan Hartley to start at hooker and Lawes in his less familiar role at blindside flanker.

PA

News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Extras
indybest
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
travel
Arts and Entertainment
music
Sport
football
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
News
i100
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

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home