Today’s Lions squad announcement left many disappointed. While Warren Gatland and his coaching teams made some controversial decisions, perhaps the most divisive omission was that of Joe Launchbury.
The towering lock has been one of the most solid performers in the position over the past number of years.
Launchbury was one of the few positives from a catastrophic 2015 World Cup campaign for England, and while Eddie Jones initially left him behind Maro Itoje and George Kruis in the pecking order, the Wasps lock continued to improve.
Launchbury put in a remarkable Six Nations campaign this year, picking up two man of the match awards, and was nominated for the player of the tournament gong.
Lock was an incredibly competitive area for Lions selection, and there was no room for the 26-year-old. Itoje, Kruis, Alun Wyn-Jones, Iain Henderson and Courtney Lawes all got the nod.
The quality of second row left out shows just how much depth there is at Gatland’s disposal. Jonny Gray and Donnacha Ryan are among those who just missed out, but Launchbury is the clear loser in this situation.
Wasps’ official twitter reacted to the news in an honest tone.
All gobsmacked here that Joe Launchbury wont be with @lionsofficial. 2 motm’s in a 6 Nations winning campaign & player of the comp nominee
— Wasps (@WaspsRugby) April 19, 2017