Ex-Raider Launchbury called into England’s Six Nations squad

FORMER Worthing Raiders Rugby Club star Joe Launchbury has been handed his first senior England call-up.

The 20-year-old lock, who played for Raiders in the 2009-10 season, has been called into the squad for training this week ahead of their Six Nations clash with France on Sunday.

Launchbury, who now plys his trade at London Wasps after signing a three-year contract there last May, has received the call after a string of impressive performances since returning from injury three weeks ago.

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He has been called into the squad to replace the injured Courtney Lawes, who has been ruled out of the tournament with a shin injury.

Launchbury said: “I am totally shocked, to be honest, but thrilled to get the chance to train with the squad.

“It was a totally unexpected call, especially as I have missed so much of this season, but it’s a great opportunity for me to pick up some really valuable experience at the highest level. I’m really looking forward to it.”

The young player was first spotted by ex-Wasps legend Will Green, when he was head coach at Raiders, and the Aviva Premiership club immediately enrolled him into their famous academy.

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He was then given a contract with the senior side, where he has earned just 12 senior caps in the Premiership, making his other accomplishments all-the-more noteworthy.

He has impressed so much in his appearances that his CV already boasts helping the England under-20s win last year’s Six Nations, as well as representing his country at the Junior World Cup final, where he was awarded England’s players’ player of the tournament.

Earlier this year, he was also named in the Saxons squad, but missed out on selection owing to injury.

No doubt Worthing rugby fans will have an extra interest when this weekend’s England team to play France is announced.