Joe Launchbury on England's gym freaks, worst dancers and sporting idols
"I'm enjoying being back in and around the team."
This is a purely personal, but having Joe Launchbury in your squad - Wasps, England, Lions, whatever - makes it better.
The 30-year-old is back in the England set-up after a [too] long spell on the outside, looking in. Eddie Jones has included him in a 25-man squad, assembling in Bristol, ahead of the Guinness Six Nations game against Ireland, on March 12.
During a short break in training and preparations, we spoke with Launchbury, Maro Itoje and Ellis Genge about a social inclusion campaign, run by Guinness, entitled the Never Settle Programme. After a big drive, in 2021, to raise awareness of the Women’s Six Nations championship, the big Guinness focus in 2022 is is working with partners and the rugby community to 'ensure all spaces around the sport are safe and welcoming to all, whether that be online, in stadiums or in pubs and bars'.
Launchbury also spoke about pet peeves, rugby idols and helped settle who is the strongest in the England gym.
Strongest in the England squad gym sessions
In our effort to get a definitive answer on who shifts the most tin and does the most reps, we asked all three players - as well as teammate George Furbank - to name names.
Itoje was first up and both simply and confidently declared, "Joe Marler." The prop was not the only one to get some shine, however.
There's a fair few candidates for that. Will Stuart and Kyle Sinckler are definitely up there, but I've got to go with Ellis Genge. I reckon he is the strongest. I don't want to pump his tyres too much, but he can certainly bench a decent amount!
Sladey [Henry Slade] is always in the gym. He loves a pump! He's always doing his guns, working on the legs and stuff like that. He's always in the gym. You're like, 'Where have you just been, mate?' He'll go, 'Oh, in for another pump'.
"Then you obviously have some of the forwards - the likes of Gengey and Sincks - that are just freaks in the gym, and the numbers that they hit.
You know what, I probably would have said myself before we came into the campaign, but Kyle Sinckler is putting some serious tin up on the bench, at the moment. He was doing 170 [kgs] for five [reps] the other day. I used to do more than him but now he's doing that. Chaos!
With the legs, though, it's probably myself. With his legs, he squats to a box! Zero depth!
As an all-rounder, I'd probably put myself up there, but Sincks on the bench. I'll catch him very soon, don't worry.
With Launchbury, Furbank and the man himself all saying Ellis Genge, it looks as though he just edges the bench-press machine, Kyle Sinckler as best all-rounder in that England squad gym.
Quick-fire questions with Joe Launchbury
After helping set the scene for the pivotal Six Nations clash between Wales and England, and telling us more on the Guinness 'Never Settle' programme, we then asked the Wasps lock some quick-fire questions.
Favourite Film or TV programme
I just finished watching After Life with Ricky Gervais. A brilliant, brilliant series. You'd be laughing one minute and almost crying the next.
Rugby-wise, growing up as a young second row, it would have been Martin Johnson. From a general sport trivia point of view, I'm a big Crystal Palace fan, I grew up watching Andy Johnson and Clinton Morrison. They would probably be my childhood sporting idols. They were my two favourite footballers.
If you could live a day in the shoes of someone else, who would you pick?
It'd be cool to be the President of America, maybe for one day. It'd be a lot of pressure but a lot of power, too. Make some big decisions, then not have to deal with the consequences.
Early bird or night owl?
I've always been an early bird, but even more now that we've had kids.
If you were not playing rugby, what would your alternative career be?
Being a big Palace fan and a big sports nut, I'd like to think I'd be involved in sport somehow. I've got a sports science degree, so would like to think I'd put that to good use.
Jack Nowell would be pretty good on the dance-floor. He'd be a pretty good mover.
And the worst?
Any of the front five, and I'm definitely putting myself in that category. A fair few of us, probably.
Biggest pet peeve?
English people's love of queuing. They queue for stuff they don't even need to, and I don't get it.
Ultimate cheat meal?
A nice chicken burger and chips.
Any weird pre-match superstitions?
When I was younger, I liked to do things in a certain order. Put my socks and boots on last, before I went out. I'd be last out of the changing room. I used to have a thing about being the last out and last on to the pitch. I don't like the dead time before a game. That superstition had to change when I was made captain a few years ago. I had to go from being last out to first.