Northampton Saints lock Christian Day admits he’s been impressed by Joe Launchbury’s rise to the international stage – but he’s determined to keep the London Wasps lock quiet this weekend.
Second-placed Saints head to Adams Park this weekend buoyed by their successful European revenge mission against Leinster last weekend, looking for a ninth straight win against Wasps.
The Londoners will be looking for a fourth straight win in all competitions however – putting their disappointing defeat to Bath Rugby behind them with an away victory over London Irish, followed by back-to-back European wins over Grenoble.
Wasps currently sit seventh in the Aviva Premiership – paying the price for some inconsistent form and a series of narrow defeats – but Day is only too aware that with the likes of Launchbury lining up for Dai Young’s side – there will not be in for an easy ride.
“The Premiership is so tight now,” said Day. “There are probably ten teams that will all give each other a good run for their money on any day.
“Someone is going to drop points in the top six this weekend because they’re playing someone else but there just aren’t any easy games anymore.
“We’re playing Wasps this weekend who people will talk down and you forget they’ve got the likes of Joe Launchbury, James Haskell and Andy Goode who are top quality players.
“We’re taking them very seriously, the same we did with Leinster and hopefully we’ll get a good result.
“Joe Launchbury has sort of come out of nowhere and full credit to him. He’s performed on the biggest stage, playing very well for England and for Wasps, and his work rate is immense and we’ll keep an eye on him this weekend and hopefully he won’t play too well.”
James Haskell, meanwhile, is only too aware of the threat posed by Saints, who have lost just once in the Aviva Premiership this season.
“They are a massively impressive side, I’ve always liked Northampton Saints because I think they’ve got a very tough, physical work-ethic,” said Haskell.
“They’ve got a very bonded squad there and I think that showed with their backlash after the first Leinster game.
“It’s a very physical challenge, especially in the forwards when you play Northampton, you have to get your scrum cap on get your gum shield in and get your head in places where it’s going to hurt because that’s the kind of level and intensity they bring.
“And Wasps are going to need to be on the money and be ready for that. We can’t afford any slip-ups and give them the ball.
“If you give them five or six driving lineouts, it doesn’t matter how tough you are, they’re going to score one of them and they are very good at doing that kind of stuff – I think it will be the toughest challenge of the season.
“It’s difficult because it’s over the Christmas period and everyone’s having a lovely festive time and you’ve got to have your nose to the grindstone.”
Referee: Matthew Carley (6th Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Ashley Rowden & Peter Huckle. TMO: David Sainsbury.