Rugby World Cup: England wary of Wales - Joe Launchbury

By Chris JonesBBC Radio 5 live rugby reporter
Joe Launchbury in action against Fiji
Joe Launchbury (left) was a replacement in England's World Cup win over Fiji
Rugby World Cup: England v Wales
Venue: Twickenham Date: Saturday 26 September Time: 20:00 BST
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio 5 live, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, BBC local radio, plus live text commentary on the BBC Sport website

England lock Joe Launchbury has warned that Wales will revel in their underdog status when the sides meet on Saturday.

Wales' World Cup campaign has been overshadowed by injuries, with Leigh Halfpenny, Rhys Webb, Cory Allen and Eli Walker all withdrawing.

But Launchbury says the Wales coaches will ensure their players arrive at Twickenham in combative mood.

"I know Wales defence coach Shaun Edwards well from Wasps," the 24-year-old told BBC Sport.

"I know exactly the sort of stuff he will be saying to the players this week to really get them up for the game."

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Wales also have injury concerns in the front row, with Aaron Jarvis, Paul James and Samson Lee all being assessed at the start of the week, while full-back Liam Williams took a knock to the hip in the win over Uruguay.

However, Launchbury is aware of what happened during the Six Nations, when an unfancied England side overwhelmed Wales in Cardiff.

"You definitely take notice of it, and it's a shame to see some of the injuries," Launchbury added.

"But we can't focus on it too much. We had a fair few injuries in the Six Nations and still performed well and got a tough win in Wales.

"We know on the flipside - with them coming to us - what their mentality will be."

Jeremy Guscott, rugby union analyst, BBC Sport
"Wales have won enough against England in recent times - emerging victorious from three of the last five matches - to travel to Twickenham with confidence. They have a real chance."
Read more from Guscott

Launchbury was left on the bench for England's opening 35-11 World Cup win against Fiji on Friday, but was part of a strong showing from the replacements in the second half.

Having only returned from neck surgery in May, Launchbury says he is desperate to make up for lost time.

"I've been injured for a long, long time so I certainly feel like I have a point to prove," he said.

Launchbury and number eight Billy Vunipola are both pushing for a return to the starting XV, but the Wasps player says any selection issues are out of his hands.

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"That call is way beyond me, but like the whole bench we have a job to do to raise the tempo - and I felt for half an hour at the end we did that," he said.

The winner of of Saturday's clash will move into a strong position at the top of Pool A, and Launchbury says the England players are under no illusions as to the magnitude of the match.

"We know the size of the game and we know what a great challenge it is for us, but I think we are really excited by it."