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Wasps coach confident of plugging the holes
IN their halcyon days, defence was the best form of attack for Wasps.
Aided by trusted on-field lieutenants like Fraser Waters, Shaun Edwards created a team that was almost as dangerous without the ball as with it.
Standards have slipped almost year on year since then, and the latest to try and arrest the slide is Australian Brad Davis, formerly of Bath.
He said: “Plenty of hard work has been put in over the last three or four weeks.
“We’ve got a defensive framework in place now and work to our principles. There are things in place and the guys know their roles and responsibilities, there is absolute clarity in that.
“To a man the guys have bought into it 100 per cent.
“I think we’re ahead of the curve in terms of where I thought we might be. We’re by no means the finished article. There are definitely areas that we can improve on.
“But over the course of the three-game campaign over pre-season I’ve been really pleased. The guys have shown in the first three games that they’re more than up for the task and the signs are good.
“We’re definitely heading in the right direction.”
Wasps proved their ability to defend last year, notably against Harlequins at The Stoop. But their season was punctuated with 20-minute lapses when they’d lose their structure and concede tries in clusters.
Davis said: “I’m definitely looking for defensive leaders and I’m lucky enough that at this club we’ve got the likes of Sam Jones, Ben Jacobs and Chris Bell, who are natural in that department.
“But it’s pretty much across the board. Everyone in our team has their roles in terms of the organisation of the team.”
Wasps didn’t concede a try in Ireland and only gave away two against Irish towards the end of the month, after they’d built a healthy lead.
However, those switch-off moments are habit forming and Davis wants to eradicate them completely.
He said: “I think we saw against Irish that up until the 65 minute mark we were a pretty difficult side to break down.
“There were a couple of lapses of concentration, a few missed tackles close to our line and we conceded two relatively soft tries.
“But I thought in the first 40 we were under a lot of pressure and we were very difficult to break down. Our shaped looked good and I’m pleased.
“But everything gets ramped up a little bit in a couple of weeks time and we’ll see how we are then.
“In the open spaces of Twickenham we’re going to have to be spot on with our decision-making, spot on with our framework of defence and spot on with our tackling.
“There is plenty of hard to be done still, but we’re heading in the right direction.”
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