Joe tipped as World Cup contender after Tour call

Career Launch. Joe Launchbury is expected to earn his first full England cap next week.
Career Launch. Joe Launchbury is expected to earn his first full England cap next week.

JOE LAUNCHBURY has been tipped for England’s World Cup squad in 2015.

Former Christ’s Hospital student Joe was called into the full England squad for the first time last week ahead of the summer tour to South Africa and is forging a name for himself in the Premiership with Wasps. He is also likely to face the Barbarians at Twickenham next Sunday for his first cap, with Leicester and Harlequins players unavailable having contested the Premeirship final 24 hours earlier.

Second row forward Joe had been called up to train with the squad during the Six Nations, but this is his first full squad place, after some rave reviews.

Christ’s Hospital director of rugby Andy Turner coached Joe at the school, just outside Horsham, until he left for University three years ago.

Andy said: “He has all the physical attributes, and is a very good sportsman, he is a fantastic wicketkeeper and holds the record for the number of catches here.

“He has great hands, is mobile and I would describe his as an intelligent rugby player, he makes good decisions and his destiny is in his own hands.”

New England head coach Stuart Lancaster named Launchbury among a number of uncapped players for the South Africa trip, and Andy believes his former pupil is firmly in the RFU thoughts for the World Cup on home soil in three years’ time.

“I know they rate him,” Andy added.

“It’s a long term project, they are looking at Joe for 2015 and I would think he would be fortunate to play in the side in South Africa.

“But he is very highly regarded and in four years time he will be a fully blown player. I would think he has a chance against the Barbarians.”

The 22-year-old lock has competition for the position - some of that locally, with Crawley’s Sam Twomey also a contender and currently in the England under-20 squad.

Joe did not make it at first, although he was a regular with Sussex U15-U18, London & South East U16 and U18 and England U18 he was deemed surplus to requirements by Harlequins as a youngster and went to Worthing RUFC, where former Wasps ace Will Green took him under his wing.

Andy added: “He was not retained by Quins and made an impact at Worthing.

“It has been a pretty meteoric rise for him.”

England will play three Tests against two-time world champions South Africa as part of a five-match tour between June 9 and 23.

Lancaster said of the Barbarians game: “This match has become an established fixture in the season and is hugely important for us ahead of the tour.

“We will obviously be without the Leicester and Harlequins players but this is a great opportunity for the rest of the squad.”