TOM Howe said Wasps can't afford to play catch-up if they're to improve on last year's league position.

The black and golds finished seventh and managed to secure a backdoor route into Europe after beating French side Stade Francais in a play-off game.

But Howe said they could have avoided that nailbiter if they had made a stronger start to the campaign.

Wasps lost four of their first five matches and Marlow resident Howe said it's vital the team hit the ground running if they're to continue their gradual improvement on their league position.

The former Shiplake College student said: "We finished last season strongly and got through to the new European competition by beating Stade Francais, so we finished on a high.

"We let it slip away early on but with the new signings our impact from the start will be key to how we finish.

"Last year we lost to Harlequins, Exeter and a few other teams at the beginning - we should have had more points. The other players will drill it into the new players that it's got to be different this time."

Howe made his first team bow for the team he supported as a boy last season and he's hoping this year will be the one when he makes his breakthrough.

The teenager, who's now recovered from a minor hip injury that set back his pre season preparations, said: "I really hope so. Last year I got four or five LV=Cup games and played in the Premiership, which I was really pleased about.

"If the same or better happens then great, if not I'll have to keep my head down and keep going."