Launchbury ‘envious’ of Saracens success

Joe Launchbury has admitted pangs of jealousy at Saracens’ fast-expanding trophy haul.

Wasps host Leicester in Saturday’s Aviva Premiership semifinals, with captain Launchbury targeting double European champions Saracens as the club to emulate.

Saracens are still chasing the double-double of consecutive Premiership and European titles, and Launchbury believes most of the Londoners’ rivals are itching for their own piece of the silverware action.

Wasps topped the regular-season Premiership table for the first time amid further progress under boss Dai Young, leaving Launchbury hopeful heading into the playoffs.

“We’d be in the wrong job if you don’t look at what Saracens have achieved with a bit of envy,” said England lock Launchbury.

“It’s a fantastic achievement to be winning competitions the way they have, and fully deserved.

“You have great memories of playing but I’ve noticed with England in the past year that winning championships makes a difference. Until you start winning you don’t necessarily notice it but it becomes a bit of a bug.

“We all look at Saracens a bit enviously. The only way to get there is to work harder than you are. I guess we’ll see in the next couple of weeks how close we are.”

Launchbury in action against Saracens for Wasps on the final day of the regular season. Pete Norton/Getty Images

Whatever the admiring glances at Saracens’ sustained success, Launchbury feels fully vindicated at sticking with Wasps through tough times turned good.

The Exeter-born forward has spent his full senior career with Wasps as the club staved off financial crises to force their Coventry resurgence.

And having stood by both the club and rugby director Young, Launchbury admitted winning top silverware would feel all the sweeter after the sour.

Asked if landing trophies with Wasps would mean that much more for prior hardships, the 26-year-old replied: “I definitely feel that’s the case with me.

“This is what I could see us doing, I could really see a vision of us getting back to this: finishing in the top four and competing at the top end.

“No one has a divine right to win competitions but I knew this club had the potential to knock on the door and show that we’re good enough.

“After a lot of hard work from a lot of people over the last two years we are starting to knock on the door.

“This year we’re all immensely proud to have finished top of the pile, which I don’t believe we’re ever done in our history. We want to carry that on.

“We don’t want the last two weeks of the season to peter out.”

Leicester fly-half Freddie Burns, meanwhile, wants to leave the Tigers on a high and hopes Saturday’s semifinal is not his last game for the club.

Burns has lost in two previous Premiership semifinals with Leicester. Alex Morton/Getty Images

Burns is set to join Bath at the end of the season, returning to his hometown club where he began his career in the academy. He will be replaced at Welford Road by England’s George Ford, who is moving in the opposite direction.

Burns has made more than 60 appearances for the Tigers since joining from Gloucester in 2014 but a Premiership final at Twickenham has eluded him, losing in the last four twice.

He celebrated his 27th birthday last weekend and this Saturday he is aiming to make it third time lucky.

“I’ve not really thought about it potentially being my last game, that’s being negative. You’ve got to be positive,” said Burns.

“It’s another semifinal, it’s a huge game, I’ve been fortunate enough to play in a couple for Tigers and unfortunately I’ve been on the wrong end of the result so obviously I want to try and do something I’ve never done before and that is play in a Premiership final.

“Obviously it’s a huge task against the team top of the table, Wasps are a very good team, but the last few weeks have given us a lot of confidence and we are certainly not going there just to make up the numbers.”

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