27th Jun, 2022

RUGBY UNION - West: Crunch time for Wasps ahead of Northampton trip

TOM WEST admitted it is “crunch time” for Wasps in their Gallagher Premiership campaign ahead of a trip to Northampton Saints this weekend.

Wasps enjoyed a bye weekend last time out having lost their last two matches at Bristol Bears and Harlequins respectively.

Lee Blackett’s side remain in the mix for a play-off place despite sitting ninth in the table, as they trail fourth-placed Exeter Chiefs by 11 points with a game in hand.

And West feels Wasps are more than capable of securing a top-four finish and insists the club are still trying to improve as they head into the final weeks of the season.

West said: “I don’t think any game in this league ever feels easy, we’re getting to crunch time now and we know we’ve got some work to do to climb back up the table but it’s within touching distance, we can do it, [top-four] is the goal.

“We’ve been in good form, we had a bit of a blip against Bristol, the Quins game was close, we’re very much in good spirits, the boys are training well and we’re moving on.

“We’re working on the breakdown, amongst other areas, you can never stagnate or stop doing stuff, you’ve got to find ways to get better, at the moment that’s going to be a focus of ours to keep moving forward.

“Most of the boys managed to rest up and get away for a bit which was quite nice, I had surgery at the end of last season so I didn’t have any time off and then had another injury that made me miss the week off in the first week of the season.

“I think it’s so needed [the bye round], especially the stage the Premiership is at now, how physical and how intense it is, I think it’s a necessity.”

The prop signed a new deal with the club at the end of last month and is delighted to have agreed fresh terms as he looks to return to his best form.

West added: “I haven’t been playing in the league as long as some guys but you speak to older guys and it’s night and day from when they first came into the league, anyone can beat anyone on their day, that’s the beauty of the salary cap.

“I’m massively pleased [to sign a new contract], I’ve been at the club since I was 15 in the Junior Academy, I’m massively happy to stay at the club and slowly sink into the background, I turned 26 this year, I’m ageing as well!

“I’m really happy, it’s a good environment, there’s massive opportunities for me to grow as a player, I feel like I’ve had a few setbacks this year but I’ll take those in my stride and learn from them, get better, enjoy that process and keep moving forward.

“You do have [international ambitions] in the back of your mind but I’m a firm believer in one thing comes after the other, I need to just focus on here and get this right, playing for Wasps, then everything should fall into place, it’s out of my hands anyway so I need to do everything I can control here.”

And West is in line to make his 50th Premiership appearance for Wasps at Franklin’s Gardens this weekend having endured a frustrating campaign with niggling injuries following surgery over the summer.

Speaking about his debut he said: “I was quite fired up, I was scrumming against Juan Figallo, I also distinctly remember I put in a late tackle on Owen Farrell and they scored then Wayne Barnes spoke to me under the posts and was quite nice about it, he said: ‘I know your high energy for your debut but you need to sort that out.’

“I detached my hamstring on the outside of my knee and my LCL, basically ripped them both off the bone, I had to have them both re-attached, it happened away at London Irish and it’s the biggest injury I’ve had.

“I had the rehab process over the summer and then just struggled to get back into the rhythm of things at the beginning of the season, I had a niggle here and a niggle there, it wasn’t knee related, it was just my body didn’t have a pre-season and it was little things getting on top of me, I seem to be in a good place now.

“We’ve got a great physio department and strength and conditioning team here and they’re great with your load management but it’s so unpredictable, you can have an injury on your left knee and then have something with your right calf, the S and C team were great with my load management.

“We managed to sort it out and have a plan going forward, I had a 12-week progression into full training whilst still playing but getting my training load up to get it back up to where I need it to be.”

Wasps travel to Northampton on Sunday, March 13 with kick-off at 3pm at Franklin’s Gardens.

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