21st Jan, 2022

RUGBY UNION - Blackett: Wasps moving forward ahead of special Toulouse tie

WASPS Head Coach Lee Blackett insists the club remain “moving forward” ahead of a daunting trip to France to take on reigning European champions Toulouse.

 

Blackett’s side were beaten 35-14 by a depleted Munster in their opening European fixture last weekend after captain Brad Shields received a first-half red card.

 

And aside from the club’s mounting injury problems, a number of positive Covid tests has further diminished Wasps ranks ahead of the Toulouse clash.

 

However, Blackett refuses to use unavailability of senior players as an excuse and is looking forward to a special atmosphere in the South of France.

 

Blackett said: “It’s a little bit frustrating but as soon as you start looking at the Covid issues and injuries on top of that, you start looking for excuses and that’s a dangerous path to go down.

 

“We just move forward with what we’ve been given, we’ll always look to see if there’s anything we can do better next time, for us it’s about moving forward and looking forward to the game at the weekend.

 

“We know what Toulouse can bring, they’re current European and Top 14 champions, we know how dangerous they are but this is why you work so hard to get into this competition.

 

“Last year playing in this competition without supporters just wasn’t the same, these French ties are special, it’s what makes the competition, this is why you want to be in this competition.”

 

And Blackett hopes his players can rise to the challenge against the five time European champions who Wasps famously beat to land their first Champions Cup title back in 2004.

 

Blackett added: “There’s a lot of boys going out there who are playing for the first or second ever time in the Champions Cup in front of supporters which is something to be excited about.

 

“Things didn’t go our way at the weekend, there’s 16 places up for grabs in this competition and to get through we’re going to have to go there and get something out of this game.

 

“The Champions Cup is that next step, it’s getting nearer to what international rugby looks like and a lot of these guys will all have ambitions to be international players, it’s a challenge they should all rise to.

 

“At the moment we’re chopping and changing the team all the time, you’ve got to focus on the basics of the game and give the boys confidence and that starts with your defence.”

 

The Wasps Head Coach feels the latest Covid strain will provide the whole nation with a wake-up call and hopes supporters can still attend matches.

 

He added: “It feels like everyone needs that wake-up call again, you know it’s out there, just when you think you’re getting back to some sort of reality, this hits you again.

 

“We need to be careful and that’s really the message to the players, the last thing we want is games called off, we want to be playing games.

 

“I remember when we didn’t have supporters around and you couldn’t wait for them to come back, it;s massive and it makes a difference.

 

“It’a a really tough mental challenge when the supporters aren’t there, they ease you through the tough times.”

 

Wasps travel to Toulouse on Sunday, 19 December with kick-off at 3.15pm at Stade Ernest-Wallon.

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