‘The tournament as far as we are concerned is completely on the line’: Joe Launchbury has eyes on Six Nations prize as England begin preparations for Scotland clash
- England stepped up preparations for decisive Six Nations clash against Scotland
- Should Wales lose to Ireland England victory would mean they regain the crown
- Joe Launchbury believes the title remains within England’s reach
- Eddie Jones paid close attention as the squad ran through a series of drills
England enter their final tournament game needing Ireland to beat Wales to stand any chance of winning the championship, while Eddie Jones previously admitted he wanted payback after Scotland won the Calcutta Cup at Murrayfield in 2018.
Launchbury, however, moved to quell the war of words and felt England were in a good place to beat the visitors after four wins from five games so far this campaign as they ran through preparations at their Pennyhill Park base.
Henry Slade was put through his paces at England’s Pennyhill Park training base in Bagshot
Since returning from injury, Billy Vunipola has become an integral player at No 8
He said: ‘The most important thing is we have got a massive job to do in this tournament on its own.
‘The tournament as far as we are concerned is completely on the line and we can control only what we can control and that is winning this weekend and we want to finish this Six Nations in a strong positive, way and get a good win to see where that leaves us.
‘Last year happened and this year we are in a completely different place. We are in a difference place in terms of how we want to play. We are pretty confident.
‘Being at Twickenham is a fantastic place for us to play and as players we get really excited about playing there.’
A victory against Scotland and defeat for Wales at home to Ireland would give England the title
Mark Wilson is pushing for a return to the starting XV after being a replacement against Italy
Joe Launchbury was speaking to the Mail at a Quilter Kids First event
England’s trip to Murrayfield in 2018 marked the second in a run of five straight defeats that only ended in the last Test of the lost 2-1 summer series in South Africa.
However, since then England have lost just twice, to New Zealand in November and Wales two weeks ago.
Launchbury pinpointed the work done in South Africa as pivotal to the recent upturn in form.
He said: ‘The most important thing is how we responded to the setback. There were a few things last year that didn’t go how we like but that is professional sport and I think we can be pretty proud of the squad and how we came back from that.
‘It started on summer when we went on tour, we really came together as a team.
‘Only winning the last test doesn’t sound how we wanted it to go, but the work done there was instrumental in us having a successful autumn and going into this tournament. 12 months is a long time in sport and I feel we have made the most of it.’
‘International sport definitely is such small margins, I don’t think we became this bad side overnight and were losing games by huge margins, that wasn’t the case. We were winning games by small margins before and maybe we came out on the other side and ended up losing games by small margins.
‘That is professional sport and you have to find ways to come out of that. We did that in South Africa and then it is really pleasing the way we have taken on this year as well. It sets us up really well.’
Eddie Jones has admitted he wants revenge after Scotland beat England in 2018
George Ford was involved in a clash with Scotland flanker Ryan Wilson before last year’s game
While there are still several places up for grabs ahead of the World Cup this autumn, second row is one area where England are blessed with strength. In George Kruis, Maro Itoke, Courtney Lawes and Launchbury, England have four arguably world class operators, and the Wasps forward is relishing the challenge of earning a place.
He said: ‘There is a really strong pool of second rows at the moment and the competition for those places is really exciting for us as players.
‘It isn’t a new situation, it has been like this for a while. I’d like to think that everyone can see we are being individually pushed, we have taken that on and we have all hopefully become better players.
‘There is depth there but it is a really healthy rivalry and we have all managed to get some game time over the last six months, so it has been really productive.
‘That is the beauty of what Eddie has got at the moment, depending on the game plan you can play different styles and that comes through in the second row.’
Young flanker Tom Curry has been a stand-out performer for England so far this campaign
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