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Wasps nine eager to restate his case
HE’S not quite the forgotten man of English rugby, but Joe Simpson has some ground to make up to reclaim his place as the most exciting scrum half in the country.
The Wasps nine has been blighted by injury, but more damaging to his international claims has been the pack he’s had to retreat behind at club level.
Ben Youngs of Leicester and Danny Care of Harlequins have both jumped ahead of him, as has Northampton and Saracens nines Lee Dickson and Richard Wigglesworth.
Simpson said: “It’s no surprise that the top nines have got strong packs.
“They are probably the top four teams in the Premiership, but hopefully we’ll have a high class pack this year and we’ve got some top class ball carriers.”
Simpson has almost been overlooked amidst another summer of upheaval at the club.
But if the club can provide a platform for him again, the return of the real Joe Simpson could be overshadow all the new arrivals.
He said: “Every season is a big season, particularly when you’re young.
“Last season I was hoping to push on. I got my England cap, but I didn’t have the season I’d have liked.
“This season, with the changes around the club, I’ve got more opportunity to play a faster, more me type of rugby.
“Last season we didn’t have as much firepower and had to adapt our game and play slower.
“I’d like to see Wasps play a fast, exciting brand of rugby which, when you see the names on the team-sheet, we know we can.
“That’s the type of rugby they play at international level and hopefully I can prove I’m the type of nine that excels at fast, flowing expansive rugby.
“Hopefully that will get me recognised.”
Simpson has another reason to be quietly hopeful, Welsh fly half Stephen Jones.
He will contest the ten jersey with Nicky Robinson who, like Simpson, suffered last season behind a weak pack.
Simpson said: “Stephen Jones and Nicky are both fantastic tens. Both have their own talents and both are exciting to play with.
“Nicky didn’t have the greatest season but it’s tough for a ten to play off back foot ball.
“I’d hope to see a new Nicky Robinson this year. We all know he’s got a lot to offer.
“And Steve just goes without saying, the amount of experience he has.
“He can come up with things that you haven’t seen and it’s a real eye-opener. He dragged me in to look at a different line change, and things like that are invaluable.
“Great rugby brains have that and Stephen is a great rugby brain.
“I can’t wait to play with him and Nicky. It’s looking really promising here.