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Carlisle: It will be an emotional night
IT appears Wasps still take the field with a target on their backs.
It might be six years since they last won silverware, but what they achieved during their golden era hasn’t been forgotten when they visit some of the less fashionable clubs in the Aviva Premiership.
The black and golds go to Worcester tonight and former Warrior Joe Carlisle remembers what it was this fixture was like when he was at Sixways.
He said: “I don’t think it was ever a case of targeting Wasps because we thought Wasps were better than us.
“But Wasps obviously carry a lot of weight with them and a team like Worcester would relish challenge of playing against some of the boys in the team.
“Wasps have a lot of history, and rightly so, and a few big names in the team and that spices everyone up.
“I was injured for last year’s game, but I’ve played against Wasps a few times there and playing against a team like that always brings out the best in you.”
For Wasps these days, the reality is a far cry from the glamorous reputation though, and Carlisle admits tomorrow's match will test them to the limit.
He said: “It’s “They still haven’t won and they’ll be targeting us, and it’s always a tough place to go because they make it as hostile as possible.
“They get big crowds down on Friday nights, it’s under the floodlights in quite a nice stadium – they just make a big deal of it.
“Their performances are improving and they’ve got a few new names. Ryan Lamb is down there now and he’ll bring some experience to the team.
“But it’s absolutely huge for us. If we have any inkling of getting in the top six then it’s a must-win game. We’ve got a few big games for us and it starts on Friday.
“We’ve been way off the mark and really disappointed with the last couple of games, but we’ve had chance to think about it and refocus the mind.
“We’ve still got a few big games and it starts [tonight].”
In addition to the Premiership table, Carlisle has a personal investment in this match too.
It will be his first time returning to a former club and, although he is only among the replacements, he admits he’ll have to still the emotions.
He said: “I’ve got a few fond memories at Worcester and this will be my first time going back. It will be a bit odd but I’ll be fired up.
“Hopefully I can just keep doing the basics well. I can only control what I do.
“The fans down there will probably give me a bit of stick – everyone gets it going back to an old club – and I’m still friends with a few of the guys so there will probably be a bit of ribbing going on and a few late shots.
“It will be an emotional night but I’ll be playing the shirt not the face and I’m thoroughly looking forward to it.”
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