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'A lot of people probably look at it as a negative for Paolo but there is an argument both ways'

By Liam Heagney

Trending on RugbyPass

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England lock Joe Launchbury is predicting that the still uncapped Paolo Odogwu will arrive back at Wasps feeling all the better for his first-ever squad selection by Eddie Jones. The 24-year-old was courted by Italy over the course of the winter about the possibility of declaring for them.


If Odogwu had declared for the Azzurri, there is every chance that he would have earned a number of caps under Franco Smith during the 2021 Guinness Six Nations.

Instead, he waited to see if there was interest from England and while he has not been involved in any of the matchday squads, Launchbury doesn’t believe it has been a setback for the up and coming Premiership star who has been in the 28-man international squad since late January.

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Johnny Sexton looks ahead to the Six Nations finale featuring Ireland versus England this weekend

The lack of game time with England will mean Odogwu will return to Wasps next week having not played a match of any kind since his club’s January 8 win at Bath ten weeks ago.

Launchbury, though, reckons Odogwu’s England experience will still have a positive effect on him and the plusses of being in and around that Test set-up will outweigh any downside of remaining uncapped and not featuring in a match.

“A lot of people probably look at it as a negative for Paolo but there is an argument both ways,” said Launchbury, the Autumn Nations Cup winner who missed out on the Six Nations with a stress fracture to his fibula.


“He is a guy who only really properly broke into the first team here (at Wasps) in the couple of months before he went away. I’m sure there is certainly an argument for him playing a lot of minutes and racking up some games, but my experience and looking around and seeing some of the guys who have been in and out of the England camp, I’m expecting Paolo to come back next week with a sort of real excitement the way he wants to play.

“He has hung around with the best players in the country the last eight weeks. He has seen the way they train, has seen how they prepare, how professional some of those guys are, the extras they do to try and get themselves to where they need to be. For me, that is really exciting for Paolo.

“He is still extremely young, an extremely talented guy. Hopefully for Wasps and for him as an individual this experience – although he has not got the minutes I’m sure he was desperate to get and I’m sure he would have loved to have been capped – if he comes back here with the right attitude, and I have no doubt he will, it will be a short time before he is back in there playing properly (for England).

“I’m really excited to see how he comes back, absorbed the stuff he has taken on board. It will be a huge positive for us as a club with him coming back like that.”


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'A lot of people probably look at it as a negative for Paolo but there is an argument both ways'