Wasps gearing up for 'toughest challenge'

Bucks Free Press: James Haskell James Haskell

WASPS are often talked about as a side brimming with potential but James Haskell claims it's time for Dai Young's charges to deliver.

With the likes of Joe Launchbury, Sam Jones, Elliot Daly and Christian Wade in the side, Wasps have a crop of exciting young English players and at 28 and with 50 England caps to his name, Haskell is among the senior figures at Adams Park.

He captained the side for the first time this season and he got the ball rolling against Grenoble in the European Challenge Cup last weekend, scoring the first try in a 32-12 victory.

In the Aviva Premiership, an away win at London Irish last time out banished memories of a disappointing home defeat to Bath Rugby, and Haskell is only too aware that consistency is key.

“As a player you don't like to be talked about as potential, you want to go out and get results and we don't want to get to the end of the season talking ourselves up, we want to deliver,” he said.

“I think it will take time for this pack to get to the level it was when I was coming through, I think myself and Hugo Southwell are most experienced players in terms of international caps.

“Responsibility falls to me in the Wasps team, I've got 50 caps for England I've been doing this for ten years, I'm relatively old at 28 compared to everyone else.

“I've wanted to do more with Wasps and be more involved and I think it's a great privilege to be a senior player and set an example. I enjoy it and I think I'm playing some good rugby at the moment.”

Away from home, Wasps have made significant strides since last season and have picked up at least a losing bonus point in all of their Aviva Premiership matches on the road.

They're back at Adams Park this weekend but Haskell is only too aware of the size of the task ahead with Northampton Saints coming to town.

“They are a massively impressive side, I've always liked Northampton Saints because I think they've got a very tough, physical work-ethic,” added Haskell.

“They've got a very bonded squad there and I think that showed with their backlash after the first Leinster game.

“It's a very physical challenge, especially in the forwards when you play Northampton, you have to get your scrum cap on get your gum shield in and get your head in places where it's going to hurt because that's the kind of level and intensity they bring.

“And Wasps are going to need to be on the money and be ready for that. We can't afford any slip-ups and give them the ball.

“If you give them five or six driving lineouts, it doesn't matter how tough you are, they're going to score one of them and they are very good at doing that kind of stuff - I think it will be the toughest challenge of the season.

“It's difficult because it's over the Christmas period and everyone's having a lovely festive time and you've got to have your nose to the grindstone.”

Every match in the Aviva Premiership Rugby Season is crucial, to be there to support your team buy your ticket from premiershiprugby.com/tickets

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