Joe Launchbury desperate to shine for Eddie Jones' England
PA Sport
January 19, 2016
© David Rogers - RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images

Joe Launchbury wants to be a central figure for Eddie Jones' England after an injury-interrupted build up to the disappointing Rugby World Cup.

The Wasps lock missed the 2015 Six Nations with a neck injury and returned in May to force his way into the World Cup reckoning.

But Geoff Parling and Courtney Lawes were preferred in the first two games by Stuart Lancaster and Launchbury only belatedly showed his capabilities in a defeat to Australia which saw England exit the tournament.

Launchbury, who last week was named in Jones' first squad since the Australian succeeded Lancaster, is available for Wasps' Champions Cup clash with Leinster this weekend and determined to show his worth ahead of the Six Nations-opening clash with Scotland on Feb. 6.

"Over the last year, missing out through injury and then at the World Cup, perhaps not playing as much as I would like...I'm desperate to play for England," Launchbury said.

"My focus is on trying to win the shirt back."

The 24-year-old, who started 19 consecutive Tests before his neck operation, is keen to move on after the World Cup debacle, when hosts England were eliminated at the group stage following losses to Wales and the Wallabies.

"It's a new era for us as players. There's lots of young, exciting players named in the squad," Launchbury added.

"I'm really looking forward to seeing some of my clubmates, Elliot (Daly) and Matt Mullan, guys that have been on the fringes and not played as much as they would like, get involved.

© David Rogers/Getty Images

"For myself personally it's a huge challenge. I'm really excited about getting in, working with Eddie and his team.

"I'm pretty happy with the way I'm playing. I'm just loving being back out on the pitch.

"I missed far too much rugby last year and, for me, my goal this year is just to try to play as much as I can and really get back to enjoying my rugby."

Launchbury missed Wasps' last-gasp loss to Toulon last Sunday with concussion. Despite passing the required protocols, Wasps director of rugby Dai Young decided not to play him due to his absence from training.

But Launchbury is in contention for Leinster's visit to the Ricoh Arena on Saturday, where Wasps hope to seal a place in the quarterfinals from a challenging group which also includes Bath.

Advancing in Europe is essential for a club with Wasps' ambitions. "It's really important for us to move on (from the Toulon loss)," Launchbury added.

"As a club we've been building towards it for a long time. We can talk all we like about the off-field ownership and everything moving in the right direction.

"For us we need to start doing it on the pitch. The first step is these big games and then moving on to bigger things and knockout rugby."

© PA Sport

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