25th Jun, 2022

RUGBY UNION - Everard: Wasps win important for momentum ahead of Premiership run in

Aaron Sutcliffe 17th Mar, 2022 Updated: 17th Mar, 2022

DEFENCE Coach Matt Everard insists this weekend’s Premiership Rugby Cup clash with Sale Sharks is important for Wasps’ momentum as the club try to reignite their play-off challenge in the league.

Wasps have suffered three consecutive defeats to leave their top-four hopes hanging by a thread after being narrowly beaten by both Northampton Saints and Bristol Bears in their last two outings.

Despite the results, Wasps still have a chance of reaching the Gallagher Premiership play-offs and Everard believes a return to winning ways against Sale this weekend is crucial for their play-off bid.

Everard said: “This weekend is really important for us for momentum, we lost against Bristol, then had a bye week, then lost against Northampton – winning and losing can come through momentum.

“We had a really good run previously, it’s about getting back to that by winning this weekend, we need to win to create momentum to get back into contention in the Premiership.

“We’re fielding a very strong team this weekend full of experienced players, not necessarily guys that have played week in week out in the Premiership and guys biting at the bit who have just missed out on selection previously or are returning from injury.

“People like Theo [Vukašinović] – he’s not been involved the last few weeks, he needs game time to get back to it, he’s been training consistently since his Achilles injury and deserves an opportunity, you improve through training but you need to keep playing to keep improving your game.”

And the club’s Defence Coach believes Wasps have simply conceded too many tries of late, letting in four apiece in their most recent defeats, as Everard attempts to make his side harder to break down.

Everard added: “The outcomes of the games have been really small margins, defensively we’re conceding too many points and too many tries away from home – we conceded four tries against both Bristol and Northampton, you just can’t conceded that many away in the Premiership and expect to win.

“It’s tough, the Bristol game, we actually made some big steps forward with our defence, we defended certain periods really well and really aggressively, which is the way we want to defend but one lapse punished us with how good Bristol’s attack is.

“One mistake shouldn’t lead to a try, which happened a couple of times against Bristol, you need togetherness in defence to bail each other out if one guy makes an error, you want to cut the errors out first and foremost, the scramble off the back of it, and we train that through a lot of unstructured chaos.

“The last part of training on Wednesday, we pushed the lads really hard, multiple balls coming in, it was a long ball in play, pushing balls behind the defence, creating line breaks – we spend a fair bit of time on unstructured, chaotic training.

“Tightening up our defence, our tries conceded away from home is the first thing we’re addressing, especially me.”

Wasps flanker Jack Willis received a call-up to the England squad earlier this week having played just three matches since his return from a lengthy knee injury sustained in the 2021 Six Nations tournament.

And Everard was full of praise for the back-row, who has since been omitted from the England squad, and feels Willis is only going to improve as he returns to full match fitness.

He said: “Jack is absolute class, he’s come back physically, you see the shape on the bloke – when he broke through he was transitioning from the academy into men’s rugby and he had this unbelievable point of difference with regards to what he can do over the ball.

“Now you look at him and he is a proper bloke, he is a big man, he’s worked extremely hard on his physique during his time out, he offers a point of difference on both sides of the ball, he’s hit the ground running, he still feels like he’s not fully match fit which just comes through playing.

“He’s had three games back now and we’ve integrated the minutes he’s had and tried to control those, he’s just going to get better, the more he plays and the more match fit he is, he’s just going to keep improving.

“Hats off to him for for getting called back up into the England squad and to be honest I’m not surprised at all.”

Wasps clash with Sale takes place on Saturday, March 19 with kick-off at 1pm at the AJ Bell Stadium.

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