HEAD COACH Lee Blackett believes prop Biyi Alo is “starting to deliver in big moments” as Wasps prepare to take on reigning champions Harlequins this weekend.
Alo scored a try as Wasps beat Bath 41-24 last weekend to secure a fourth successive victory which lifted the club up to fifth in the Gallagher Premiership table.
And Blackett has been impressed by the 27-year-old’s transformation since he arrived from neighbours Coventry in the 2019/20 season.
Blackett said: “Biyi [Alo’s] personality is infectious, I can’t do anything other than smile when I see him, he’s a great character and he’s worked hard to change.
“He’s changed from an academy player where he was a big guy with potential to a guy that is now starting to deliver.
“Just look at photos from a couple of years ago to what he is now and you can see the shape difference in him.
“His scrum has really improved but because of how hard he’s worked on his fitness and how mobile he is, he’s coming up with big moments in games.”
Earlier this week, Blackett celebrated his two-year anniversary in charge of the club, since being made interim head coach following the departure of Dai Young.
Blackett added: “It feels a lot longer than two years, it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster, there’s a lot that has a gone on, a pandemic, there’s been a lot of changes, we’ve had seasons crammed in.
“It’s been enjoyable, not a day goes by when I don’t enjoy this job even when things are tough, that’s the bit I really enjoy, I really enjoy trying to improve us and find a way out of a bad situation.
“I love puzzles and sudoku’s and when things aren’t going your way, it’s like a puzzle, you’ve got to try and fix it and that’s the real bit of coaching that I love.
“Even though those periods are tough, it’s enjoyable when it works and you come through the other side.”
Wasps could be without key England duo Joe Launchbury and Alfie Barbeary for this weekend’s clash with Harlequins as Blackett also provided an injury update following their victory over Bath.
He said: “We’re preparing that we’re likely to be without our England guys, I’d like to think our boys will be pushing to be involved with England, they’ll be missing a couple as well, both have got real good squads out at the moment.
“Brad [Shields] has hurt his ribs, he’s a couple of weeks away, Tom Willis is doing okay, he’ll be back on the field in the next few weeks, hopefully we can get Tom back out there in the next couple of weeks.
“Matteo [Minozzi] came back and then he had an illness, he’s just working his way back from that, Matteo will be back available for selection within the next week.”
And reflecting on last weekend’s success, Blackett felt Wasps struggled for control at the Coventry Building Society Arena but was pleased with how his side finished the game.
He said: “We played well in large parts of the game, it felt like we never took full control, we had control early on and then allowed them back into the game, overall I was really pleased with our set-piece.
“Where we lost control of the game was the aerial game, we dropped six potential balls which they won back and as a result we lost field position.
“The last 13 minutes were pretty impressive, the way the bench came on, the way the boys broke them down was very impressive.
“Ryan Mills did the simple things really well, we know what a quality player he is, it will take a little bit more time for him to get back to his absolute best but he showed glimpses.”
Wasps clash with Harlequins takes place on Saturday, February 19 with kick-off at 3pm at Twickenham Stoop.