Former England skipper Dylan Hartley has saluted the unseen contribution that Joe Launchbury has been making to Eddie Jones’ side in recent weeks. The 29-year-old, 67-cap lock has come back in favour this month, starting the wins over Georgia and Ireland and gaining selection again to face Wales this Saturday.

ADVERTISEMENT

It’s a return to prominence that Hartley, his teammate during the 2016 and 2017 Six Nations title wins, feels can’t pass without recognition. Appearing as co-host the RugbyPass Offlod show, he said: “I was watching Joe Launchbury the last few weeks, he is a real quite man. 

“He just bumbles about the field doing his job and this is where in rugby you have got to credit the team – he is doing his job so effectively, he has zero missed tackles, he is disrupting mauls, he’s almost like the unsung hero.

Video Spacer

Video Spacer
Dylan Hartley and Ryan Wilson co-host the latest RugbyPass Offload show

“He frees Maro (Itoje) up to do his thing as well but because we love talking about Maro, we love talking about James Ryan and Maro, we love talking about the Lions, Joe Launchbury missed out on the Lions last time round. It’s almost self-fulfilling. We see things we want to see whereas it is easy to not see the unsung hero doing his job. 

“They are the water carriers in the team, you always need someone. Every team has got its ball carriers, big explosive ball carriers that grab the limelight, but who’s resourcing rucks, who’s doing that nitty- gritty, the boring stuff?

“It takes a rugby purist to see that and appreciate it. But I’ll tell you what the only people who do see it and appreciate it are coaches. If you look at the balance in any team half the forward pack are the water carriers and the other half are your glory boys.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Co-host Ryan Wilson suggested that Scotland lock Jonny Gray was similarly undervalued, a hugely important player. “Another brilliant example of that is Jonny Gray, he is exactly the same,” he said. “The guy doesn’t have a bad game but you won’t hear him get mentioned for the Lions. But I tell you he can do the job that any of those boys do. Constantly just goes under cover making tackle after tackle. 

“He went some stupid amount of tackles without missing one and they are constantly dominant and his workrate, just everything about him… he is one of these humble guys, just gets on with his job, doesn’t have social media, stays out of he limelight and it’s people like that in teams that you need the most. 

“At club level especially you get to see these guys, like Rob Harley at our club (Glasgow) getting 200 odd caps. These blokes stick around for a long time, they are there for a reason, coaches love them. You know what you get from them week in week out.” 

Mailing List

Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.

Sign Up Now