JIMMY Gopperth insists “it does not get any better” than playing the current European champions away from home ahead of Wasps trip to Toulouse in the Champions Cup.
The veteran fly-half kicked four points in Wasps disappointing 35-14 home defeat to Munster last time out in which Brad Shields was critically sent off in the first half.
And the 38-year-old knows he has an important role to play against reigning European and Top 14 champions Toulouse in the South of France this weekend.
Gopperth wants Wasps to take their game to the French champions despite a raft of injuries and positive Covid cases sidelining a host of the club’s senior players.
Gopperth said: “You have to take your game to them, we know what kind of team they are, we know they try and bully you, they’ve got some big ball carriers.
“We have to go there with the mindset, it doesn’t matter who we are going to have on the team sheet, of playing the Wasps way and taking our game to them.
“We experienced guys have to take a bit more responsibility this week, making sure our game is bang on and lead from the front.
“We have to give those young guys the freedom to play their game and not worry about other things and giving them the confidence to really back their ability.
“Toulouse away – it doesn’t get any better – I said to them just enjoy the opportunity and hopefully we’ll get our detail right so we can free them up to enjoy themselves and play well.”
However, despite Wasps lack of players, Gopperth insists the game represents a great opportunity for a number of the club’s youngsters to stake a claim for a first-team place.
Gopperth added: “It was a troubling time, it was always going to be difficult last week, everyone was waiting by their phone waiting to find out if they’ve had a positive test, who’s in and who’s out.
“We’ve faced it before and young guys got opportunities, a lot of us didn’t train in those positions throughout the week, it’s just the way the world is at the moment with Covid.
“You want to put your best team forward to compete at the very highest level but things happen, it’s only going to make our squad stronger in the long run, we unearthed some great young talent during the first lockdown.
“It’s an opportunity, if you get the opportunity to play it’s one that not many people get – to play at the home ground of the European champions – it’s an awesome occasion to go there and stake your claim.”
And Gopperth was full of praise for current Toulouse captain and World Rugby Player of the Year Antoine Dupont but insists the French side have quality all over the pitch.
“He’s a brilliant player, he’s the World Player of the Year, his running game and kicking game is very strong and he just seems to pop up at the right place all the time because he’s got a great read for the game.
“He’s one you’ve got to try and take out of the game because he makes their game click, their half-back pairing is very key to the way they play.
“He’s got good upper body strength, he’s got a good fend and he’s not afraid to take players on and get stuck in, he’s a brilliant player but one that we need to contain.
“There’s 14 more guys on the field at the same time, you have an eye on individual threats, but you can’t go out and just hunt him down otherwise you’re going to leave opportunities for other people.”
Wasps travel to Toulouse on Sunday, 19 December with kick-off at 3.15pm at Stade Ernest-Wallon.
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