ELLIOTT STOOKE insists Wasps need to be in the Champions Cup next season as they look to clinch a top-eight finish in their last two games of the Gallagher Premiership campaign.
Wasps are currently ninth in the table and in danger of missing out on a spot in Europe’s premier club competition with only the division’s top eight sides receiving a Champions Cup place.
However, just two points separate Wasps and sixth-placed Exeter Chiefs and should the club win both of their remaining Premiership matches Wasps will be guaranteed a Champions Cup place,
And Stooke insists Wasps must be in the competition next season as they look to secure a ninth successive home victory against Sale this weekend to boost their European hopes.
Stooke said: “We need to be in the Champions Cup next year, we’re a big club and we need to be in that competition.
“We’ve spoken about how we’re going to bounce back from the defeat against Lyon to playing against a physical side like Sale on Friday night.
“The beauty of the sport is that we’ve got five or six days turnaround to put things right again – we’ll be ready for Friday night.
“A few of the boys are leaving, it will be their last home game this weekend so we want to sign off on a good note for those lads.
“We’ve got to give thanks to our supporters for supporting us throughout the season in tough times.”
Wasps suffered an agonising 20-18 defeat to Lyon in the semi-finals of the European Challenge Cup last weekend and Stooke admitted the players have had a difficult week having come so close to reaching a European final.
Stooke added: “It’s been challenging for the lads, it’s been a test, it’s not nice at all losing a semi-final like that, we weren’t clinical enough in the second half in particular.
“There were a lot of mistakes backed up by mistakes which eventually led to us losing the game, we played that poorly but we were still in the game.
“It’s just little things that could have got us over the line and we didn’t execute them which is unfortunate, these past few days have been tough, a lot of boys have been hurting from it.
“We’ve got characters within the squad that can lift the mood and get us focussed and ready for this weekend.”
And Stooke has been an ever-present for Wasps in the Premiership this season as he scooped the Coaches’ Player and Players’ Player of the Season awards having impressed in his first campaign with the club.
He said: “Big thanks to the coaches and the lads, it’s been easy coming into this environment when the coaches are so good and they give trust in you and the players are so good.
“It’s not massively different wherever you go, you’re still playing Premiership rugby but it’s been nice to have a run of games.
“A second-row’s job is pretty much the same wherever you go, you win your lineout ball, you take your restarts, you hit your rucks, you get the odd carry here and there and you just keep doing that for 80 minutes.
“I’m pretty happy with my performance, there’s been some tough times but overall I’m generally pleased and I’m looking forward to finishing the season strongly.”
Wasps finish their home campaign with a match against Sale TONIGHT (Friday, May 20) with kick-off at 7.45pm at the Coventry Building Society Arena.
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