WASPS have been warned to get their heads right for Sale tomorrow or risk killing their chances of a top six-finish.
The black and golds host the Sharks tomorrow desperate to take a chunk out of their five-point advantage in the Aviva Premiership.
Defeat could stretch the gap to nearly ten points, and with five games left after that it could prove too much to make up.
Director of rugby Dai Young said: “Going into this game we know deep down that it will certainly make a big dent in our aspirations if we lose.
“If we win it doesn’t mean we’re in the top six and if we lose it doesn’t mean we’re not, but we’ll really put ourselves up against it.
“Sale have got a tough run in, the same as us.
“We’ve got Saracens at home, Northampton away and Leicester.
“But there are some games in our run in – Gloucester, Newcastle and Worcester – that we’d like to think we can win if we play to the best our ability.
“Those are the games you want to win if you want to be in the top six, but if we lose at the weekend it will make it very tough.
“We’ll be relying on Sale losing rather than us winning.”
Wasps find themselves on this tightrope because of their home defeat to London Irish.
In such a congested league, losing matches you’re expected to win hits like a hammer and Wasps are especially annoyed with themselves because the defeat was a notable low between high points at Quins and Bath.
Both those performances would have seen off Irish with ease and Young admits the lacklustre nature of their loss to The Exiles is a cause for concern.
He said: “It’s hugely frustrating and it has to be a mindset thing.
“I know we’re a new team and we’re not used to competing at the top level. We’re used to scrapping at the bottom and it seems once we get out of danger we don’t have the same intensity.
“If you talk to a lot of coaches who have turned a losing group into a winning group, they all seem to go through the same type of thing and it may be something we have to go through.
“But it’s certainly frustrating because if we’d beaten Irish at home we’d be a lot more comfortable than we are now.
“It’s something I’ve spoken to the squad about. I keep saying it doesn’t matter who is next door, whether they’re top of the league or bottom of the league.
“It’s about us and how we perform and we have to go out and deliver the same standards.
“Unfortunately we haven’t on occasions.
“But coming into the Irish game, I didn’t sense any complacency or that we weren’t giving it the respect it deserved.
“We just didn’t seem to have that edge on the day and I find it a little bit of a head scratcher.”
Sale aren’t a Saracens or a Saints, and if Wasps were muted against Irish the same rules could apply tomorrow.
Young said: “For 60 minutes last weekend I thought we played some of the best stuff we have this season against a very good Bath team.
“Hopefully we can have 80 minutes of the same performance against Sale, because it’s a massive game.
“It’s a massive game for them and for us. They’ll have the motivation of knowing that if they can get the result it puts them in the driving seat and us under lots of pressure to get that sixth spot.
“If we win it’s pretty much all on.”