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Twin benefits for Wasps back rower
IT’S just as well Ashley Johnson is such a strong carrier because he sure has his hands full now.
Last week his wife gave birth to twin boys Zacharay and Ryan, and with a three-year-old son already, the Wasps back row is bracing for a rocky time.
He said: “We knew it was twins a few months back. We’ve had time to prepare because everyone tells you it’s different to having one child, but once they’re here you realise it’s totally different.
“The main challenge is that when one is sleeping the other one is awake.
“We’re trying to keep them on the same routine, but I need my sleep so my wife is having a hell of a time with the four of us in the house.
“But we’ve got a good understanding. I help out where I can and my mother-in-law has come over to help us out a bit in the next couple of months too.”
Johnson has moved near the training ground so he can pop home at every opportunity, and so far it’s going well.
“I’m really enjoying it. It’s a pleasure to be around them and hopefully in the next couple of weeks they’ll come to a match.
“My eldest son has been begging me to come down.”
Tomorrow evening’s 8.10pm kick off against Newport Dragons might be past his bedtime, but Johnson himself is ready and raring to go in the Amlin Challenge Cup, even if it is the Heineken Cup’s poor relation.
He said: “I haven’t played in the Amlin Cup so the excitement is definitely there for me and I’m looking forward to it.
“We are struggling a bit in the Premiership too so this competition gives us a chance to start clean in the middle of the season.
Meanwhile, Johnson’s arrival at Wasps has brought the best out of the man challenging him for his back row shirt, Billy Vunipola.
The giant Tongan has slimmed down to 126kg this season and his personal battle with Johnson can only benefit Wasps.
Director of rugby Dai Young said: “Billy has been outstanding. There was always a bit of a concern as to how he would respond to Ashley Johnson coming in, but he’s responded really positively and it’s sparked him to a different level.
“Everyone knew he was an excellent ball carrier, but realistically did he have the fitness levels to contribute in other areas of the game?
“This year his tackle count is up there with the best of them and his carrying, at the age of 20, is phenomenal.”