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Six Nations 2014: Joe Launchbury Confident Ahead Of Opening Clash With France

29/01/2014 11:08 GMT | Updated 29/01/2014 11:59 GMT
David Rogers via Getty Images
BAGSHOT, ENGLAND - JANUARY 28: Joe Launchbury looks on during the England training session at Pennyhill Park on January 28, 2014 in Bagshot, England. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Joe Launchbury is confident England can dismiss any concerns following their humiliating defeat in Cardiff in last year’s 6 Nations Championship.

Stuart Lancaster’s men, who were chasing their first Grand Slam since 2003, lost 30-3 to Wales - a result that led to calls for the team to be completely rebuilt

But after an impressive autumn, which included wins over Australia and Argentina, Launchbury insists that England have a pack capable of competing with the very best.

"I'd say we've removed any lingering doubt over our physicality, but the question will continue to be asked," the Wasps and England lock said.

"We went to Argentina and played well there. We had three tough autumn matches and don't think anyone could say we lacked bite in those matches.

"I'd like to think we're well and truly past that and have grown as a team.

"We had one day in Cardiff when it didn't go as we would have wanted, but since then the focus has been on us improving.

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"Hopefully we showed where we are in the autumn and we'll continue to do that in the Six Nations."

England open their 2014 Six Nations against France in Paris on Saturday in an opening-day match that could have a decisive impact on both teams title chances.

Although Les Bleus finished bottom of the table last season, Launchbury knows how dangerous they can be but insists England have the belief to open the year with a victory.

"A lot of people are tipping France to be champions," the 22-year-old said.

"We know what a great side they are and their club teams have gone well in Europe on the whole.

"We're going to Paris first up so it's a tough game, but we're quietly confident about where we are."

Launchbury has been battle-hardened for Saturday's showdown by playing home and away Amlin Challenge Cup ties against Bayonne and Grenoble this season.

"The biggest thing I took from those games is travelling away to France, going over there and playing big heavy French packs," he said.

"The games went pretty well. We got two wins away from home and definitely enjoyed our time out there.

"French packs down the years have been pretty big and heavy. Looking at their 23 for the weekend their front five look to be in the mould."