NATHAN Hughes is finding the sort of form to make Wasps fans ask, ‘Billy who?’
The 21-year-old caught the eye on debut in September but his progress was slowed by a knee injury that kept him out for 12 weeks.
He came back at the end of February though, and since then has been building to the level that has earned him the Man of the Match award in each of Wasps’ last two games.
He said: “Gloucester was probably my best performance since I’ve been here.
“I was shocked to get Man of the Match and shocked with my performance because I was out for 12 weeks and haven’t got my fitness levels up there yet.
“But I got Man of the Match after the Saracens game too so that’s two in a row and I’m happy where I am now.
“I’m up and running and fully fit and all I’ve got to do is take my opportunity and show the coaches I want to play and keep the jersey for as long as I can.”
Hughes arrived to fill the gap left by Billy Vunipola after his 11th hour switch to Saracens.
The Fijian was primarily a lock in New Zealand, but says the greater freedom he has in the No Eight jersey suits his game.
He said: “Moving from second row to back row is a big change. The coaches want their No 8 to be mobile so you’re going from playing tight to a loose game.
“But I like carrying the ball and making tackles and you do more of that in the back row. You get the ball at the back of the scrum and just go.
“But there is a lot of pressure playing eight. Wasps had [Billy Vunipola] as their go forward player and he is a good ball carrier. “Then I come into the team and the pressure is on me to do the same.
“But I’m happy I made the switch. I like this position.”
Wasps go to Welford Road tomorrow, but after last weekend one eye already on an Amlin Challenge Cup semi-final against Bath at the end of April.
Having lost home and away to them already this year, Wasps will be the underdogs.
Hughes said: “Bath are a top side. We’ve played against them twice and lost to them twice.
“But the semi-final will be a good opportunity to show what we’ve been doing in the last few weeks and whoever brings it on the day will probably take it.”