25th Jun, 2022

RUGBY UNION - Gaskell: 200th Premiership appearance "meant a lot"

JAMES GASKELL admitted it “meant a lot” after the second-row made his 200th Premiership appearance last weekend.

Gaskell made his long awaited return from injury at the start of the year and came off the bench to bring up 200 Premiership appearances in Wasps last gasp 27-26 victory at Exeter Chiefs last time out.

And the 31-year-old insists his body has felt the effects of those 200 games having begun his top-flight career with fellow Gallagher Premiership side Sale Sharks.

After missing three months of the season through injury, Gaskell feels fresh and ready to attack the remaining 10 league fixtures this campaign.

Gaskell said: “The body does think it has been 200 games, the game has come a long way from day one, I’ve been lucky to play with some pretty special people throughout those 200 games.

“I sat down with the coach at the start of the year and hitting 200 Premiership games was definitely one of my goals for the season.

“It meant a lot, from a personal point of view, the lads got right behind me which was class and to get the win as well made is a special day.

“I’m touching as much wood as I can, the body feels good, fair play to the physio’s here, they’re pretty special and the key priority is making sure that I’m on the pitch at a weekend, I feel good and my body is doing well.”

Ahead of this weekend’s clash with bottom side Bath, Gaskell insists Wasps will not take their opponents lightly given the unpredictable nature of the Premiership this season.

Gaskell added: “The beauty of the Premiership is that anyone can beat anyone on their given day, we’re not taking them lightly, we’re excited for whatever challenge comes on Saturday afternoon.

“Throughout the whole season there’s been a great buzz around the place, it’s a great group of lads that have been assembled, a lot of lads enjoy spending time with each other anyway.

“I don’t think the buzz has never not been there, you throw wins into it and you bring people like Joe Launchbury and Malakai Fekitoa back into the fold, it’s always going to bring an extra level of something.

“We’re lucky that we’ve pulled out some really big wins over the last four or five weeks and we’re in a good place.”

And Gaskell feels last week’s win at Sandy Park will remain long in his memory as Wasps snatched the points with the clock four minutes into the red.

He said: “You probably don’t have too many games like that over your career, they’re definitely ones that you remember, to get that little bit of luck and come out on the winning side is huge.

“In terms of the confidence, in terms of positivity, everything about it just gives you that little bit of an extra buzz and it made the bus journey home a lot more fun.

“It’s a scenario that we practice a lot, you trust people to do their job, it always helps when the opposition concedes a penalty, it takes a little bit of weight off your shoulders.

“Fair play to Charlie [Atkinson], a young kid playing at 10, to pull it like that is pretty impressive and to throw a pass like that is pretty special really.”

Wasps host Bath on Saturday, February 12 with kick-off at 3pm at the Coventry Building Society Arena.

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