26th Jun, 2022

RUGBY UNION - Blackett: Wasps stronger ahead of Boxing Day clash with London Irish

WASPS Head Coach Lee Blackett believes his side is “stronger” ahead of their Gallagher Premiership clash with London Irish on Boxing Day.

 

The Coventry-based club saw their European Champions Cup tie against Toulouse called off last weekend due to the new travel restrictions between the United Kingdom and France.

 

And that has afforded several Wasps players the chance to return from Covid-19 after a number of first-team squad members were forced to sit out the previous European clash against Munster after testing positive for the virus.

 

Wasps coach Blackett revealed the club have stepped up their Covid measures in an attempt to prevent the spread of the virus within the playing squad.

 

Blackett said: “We’re in a pretty good position, we’ve had a couple of staff go down in the last couple of weeks, outside of that we’re good as a whole.

 

“The big thing is testing lateral flows every single day, the last thing we want is games being called off because of positive cases.

 

“We want to catch is before anything gets through the squad – we’re taking extra precautions.

 

“We’ve highlighted to the players how important this is for everyone and how important it is for the team, we’ve got to be extra vigilant.

 

“We’re making sure meeting times are no longer than 10 minutes, trying to avoid sat down meals, we’ve upped it and we’re lateral flowing every single day out of our choice.”

 

And Blackett feels Wasps now have a stronger squad for the London Irish game having had an extra week to prepare for the fixture at the Coventry Building Society Arena.

 

Blackett added: “The game being postponed has probably helped us, that extra week’s rest, it would have been a six-day turnaround which wouldn’t have been ideal preparation for London Irish.

 

“We’ve got the guys back that had the positive Covid tests before, we should be stronger than we would have been going to Toulouse.

 

“Irish are coming in off the back of four wins on the bounce, they’ve got a very good squad when they’ve got their best team out on the field.

 

“They’re attack at the moment has scored the most tries in the Premiership, they’re a team on form and high on confidence.”

 

The returning Alfie Barbeary has impressed following a long injury lay-off and Blackett explained why the youngster opted to move from hooker into the back-row.

 

He said: “He’s always wanted to play back-row, he was massively keen on going in the back-row and I saw a weight lifted off him when he realised he could play back-row and the England selectors believe he could play for his country in that position.

 

“Once he got that news it was a no-brainer for him, he’s starting to understand his body a lot more and I see a high level of maturity.

 

“He just wants to be back playing and he’s playing pretty well, he’s building his fitness nicely and his little cameos at the moment have been really effective.”

 

Wasps host London Irish on Boxing Day (Sunday, December 26) with kick-off at 3pm at the CBS Arena.

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