Latest from the camp ahead of the European Champions Cup

Wasps face a crucial European Champions Cup double-header over the next fortnight with French Top 14 leaders La Rochelle.

Ahead of the first meeting at Stade Marcel-Deflandre on Sunday afternoon, we caught up with Joe Launchbury, who had also just signed a new contract.

Wasps face a crucial European Champions Cup double-header over the next fortnight with French Top 14 leaders La Rochelle.

And ahead of the first meeting at Stade Marcel-Deflandre on Sunday afternoon, everyone at the club received a boost earlier this week when Joe Launchbury signed a new contract.

We caught up with Joe between training sessions to find out a bit more.

His Wasps heritage…

“I am proud of the fact that I've been here from a young age, feel invested in the club and part of the direction we’re going in.

“Our core of young English guys came through together and has pretty much stayed together under Dai, and for me the decision to stay was relatively easy because of that.

“We’ve been mates from a young age, and we feel we've gone through those times when we weren't 100 per cent sure about how things were going to pan out to now, when we're getting 22,000 to a home game against Leicester.

“The feel we now have around the squad and the energy at the Ricoh Arena on match day was unimaginable a few years ago, so it would be crazy for me to move on now and look from afar. 

“If Wasps won something without me being here, then I'd be devastated - I definitely want to be part of it.

 “No-one's guaranteed anything in rugby, the league's too tight and the teams around us are too good, but I really believe we're moving in the right direction, and hopefully we can keep putting ourselves in the frame in years to come.”

The season so far…

“In that block where we lost a few games, we had Exeter away, Ulster away, Saracens away and they're three tough games no matter where they come in the season, or how many of your squad are injured.

“Myself and a few of the other guys tried to stay as positive as we could around the group. “It was new ground for us, because last year we were winning games we probably shouldn't have won, whereas this year we didn't feel we were doing a lot wrong but were getting punished when we did make a mistake.

 “It was an interesting time for us, but I'm really proud of the way we've come out the other side.” 

Recent developments…

“The biggest change has been in our attitude to defend, which has really improved.

“Our attacking game's always going to be good, but as a playing group we knuckled down to give a better representation of ourselves defensively, and I think we've started to do that over the last few weeks.

“When things weren't going our way, the tries we were scoring last year didn’t come quite so freely.

“Since then we've changed a couple of things in attack, and in the last few weeks we seem to have been making more opportunities, which is fantastic.”

 The Wasps way…

“We want to be a club who excite - our recruitment shows that we like to sign exciting players who get the crowd on their feet – but we also want to win.

“We’ve had quite high player turnover here in the past, perhaps 15 in and 15 out at the end of the season, and had that for a number of years.

“There were reasons for it and we've clearly improved the squad over the years, and had to go through that adjustment to get to where we are.

“Things are more settled now, and should be over the next few years.  We have a fantastic squad – if we can improve each individual in this environment, hopefully we'll improve as a team.

“We've had a lot of re-signings over the last couple of weeks, and some of those guys are brilliant club men who it’s been fantastic for us to keep.

“People do move around and move on, whether that's to seek more playing time or whatever, everyone's got their reasons. But we seem to be keeping a lot more players than we have done over the years, which is good news.”