With their recently acquired wealth and status as the richest club in Europe (Google it, I was shocked when I heard too), alongside their growing array of talent within the team, with the introductions of Australian legend, George Smith and Ulster-bound Charles Pitau, London (or Coventry) Wasps, are beginning to emerge as potentially one of the biggest underdogs in European rugby.
They already have a reputation for speed and a habit of fashioning chances from areas where there is little.
This can be attributed down to players, like the unlucky World Cup absentees Elliot Daley and Christian Wade, who both have quick feet and the latter having the ability to race away from pretty much anyone whilst leaving players behind with a quick hip swivel.
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These embedded English gems, can work well with the Southern Hemisphere inclusions of Pitau (though, regrettably this is only for one season, as he is bound for Ulster for the 2016/17 campaign), as well as Frank Halai, you have to accept at the very least, Wasps have gained enough players with the ability to finish, to match, even beat, any team in Europe.
Their back row, strong for the past few seasons, won’t be getting any worse. With Smith coming in, he merely adds another dimension to the trio of Haskell, Johnson and Hughes. Hughes is a brilliantly exciting player. At only 24 he is still someone of a raw talent, but he has already shown a maturity whilst retaining his youthful flair. Best bit about him, he soon qualifies to represent England and I think it’d be brilliant to see him in the back row wearing the rose.
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Perhaps where Wasps do lack, is someone as world class as their finishers, standing in at stand-off. They have Ruaridh Jackson, who could potentially play a role. But with Wasps goals growing with its wealth, is Jackson the man to lead a backline as lethal as Wasps.
However, Wasps have brought in Jimmy Gopperth, who did well at Leinster whilst also having experience of the fast paced and hugely popular Super Rugby in the Southern Hemisphere. Gopperth also adds something different to the backline than Andy Goode did. Acting as rugby’s solution to Emile Heskey, Goode was able to rack up a lot of points for Wasps over the season, and accurate place kicking will be one of the many roles, resting on the new 10s shoulders.
Only time will tell how Wasps’ new wealth and signings will impact their Premiership chances. With only two players in the England squad, the World Cup might even benefit them as other teams see streams of players take off to the tournament, whilst Wasps have been able to retain a large proportion of their stronger players.
Whether this will have any impact, we will see, what I do know is, this years Premiership has got just that little bit closer, with Wasps seemingly charging back towards the title.
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