England look certain to be without Wasps lock Joe Launchbury for the entire Six Nations Championship following his fibia stress fracture.
It was hoped that Launchbury, who pulled out of the championship just before it kicked off, would be back for the final two England matches against France and Ireland but Lee Blackett, the Wasps director of rugby, today confirmed that a time scale of three to six weeks was still in place.
Launchbury had formed a highly effective double act with Maro Itoje and his work rate and maul destroying skills have been badly missed by England who have used Exeter’s Jonny Hill to fill the void in the second row.
Blackett who needs Launchbury back to help halt a poor run insisted the lock would only be cleared to play when the medical staff were completely happy with his recovery from the leg fracture. Blackett said: “It is going well with Joe and he could potentially be available in three to six weeks. From the start we hoped Joe could be back for the last two games of the Six Nations but that was always going to be a push and we are going to try our best.
“Our medical guys are in contact with England and the key is to make sure he is fit. I am sure a fully fit and raring to go Joe is someone they would want involved but it looks like it will be a push.”
Blackett has hit back at Steve Borthwick, the Leicester director of rugby, who claimed Wasps players were calling for red cards during a match that saw the Tigers win 27-8. Leicester players Jasper Wiese and Hanro Lienbenberg plus Wasps Kieran Brookes were sent off and Blackett said: “It is an emotional sport and I have too much respect for other clubs to talk about what other clubs do.
“I wouldn’t be using the media to get a point across to another club.”
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