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Wasps gear up for Twickenham opener
DAI Young is confident that if Wasps make a fast start to the new Aviva Premiership season they are better equipped to maintain it this year.
Victories over Saracens and Leicester in their opening two matches last season promised a new dawn under Young, but the wheels came off spectacularly after that with the club tumbling down the table amidst an injury crisis that often left them scrambling just to fill shirts.
However, despite question marks still over the clubs ownership, the summer has been good to Wasps.
Young said: “This squad is far nearer my squad than last season. Hugo Southwell was the only signing I made apart from the short-term loans.
“I’ve had much more impact on recruitment this time and had a little bit longer with the players through pre-season.
“I’m far more comfortable now that I’ve had a bigger influence than this time last year.”
But Harlequins tomorrow represents probably an even tougher challenge than Saracens was a year ago.
Young said: “We won the first two games and then everything went downhill. We peaked too early. “But you don’t get a true reflection of where teams are in the first few weeks.
“We’re picking from a nigh on full-strength squad [for Quins], which is a massive positive, but there was a bit of hangover from last season in the first month of pre-season.
“A lot of people had operations, Ashley Johnson hasn’t long arrived, [James] Haskell and [Tom] Palmer have been away...
“We were restricted in what we could do so the last month has been a little bit of catch up on the rugby front.”
There was evidence of that under-preparation in defeat to Treviso in their first warm-up match, although putting 50 points on Leeds a week later suggested a hasty step up.
Young said: “What I’ve learned is that I’ve got a few headaches in selection, which I certainly didn’t have last season.
“You hear coaches talking about a 23-man approach, and we’ll have armoury on the bench which we didn’t have last season. That’s exciting for me.
“And I’d much rather be making tough decisions on who is starting, who is on the bench and who is missing out than just trying to get 23 out on the park.
“There is going to be competition for most places and people are going to have to play well to get into the team and they’re going to have to keep playing well to hold off the pressure from within.”
Stephen Jones is the most high profile arrival, alongside Haskell and Palmer, although there is plenty of lesser known talent new to the club that could make a huge impact in the coming months.
Young said: “We’ve got more players and a better squad. The proof is in the pudding and a big task will be getting people to all gel.
“A lot of people have left and there are a lot of new faces in there.
“Getting them to all play together will be a big of a task early doors. But it’s a long season and that will take care of itself.”