FRANCOIS HOUGAARD expects a “massive challenge” when Wasps take on rivals Leicester Tigers in the Gallagher Premiership this weekend.
The former South Africa international has featured six times for Wasps since his arrival from fellow Premiership side Worcester Warriors.
And the 33-year-old has proven a valuable asset to Lee Blackett’s squad as he is able to operate at both scrum-half and on the wing, starting the last three games in the latter position.
Hougaard is expecting a tough test against a Leicester side who have won all 11 of their Premiership matches this season with Wasps beaten at Sale Sharks in their last outing.
Hougaard said: “I see it as a massive challenge for us, all credit to them, they’ve had a great season and always perform really well as a team, they’ve had a very impressive season, not losing a game yet.
“We need to focus on ourselves and be more consistent in our performances, a lot of the games haven’t gone the way we wanted them to go.
“We’ve played patches of good rugby and we’re giving away points and try tries too easily, it’s all things in our control and that we are working on every single day.
“Wasps are a top club and can win silverware, the standards are set very high and us as players need to put the work in and push for those standards.
“Results and those things will take care of themselves if we push those standards and live by them every day.”
A two-time Super Rugby winner with the Bulls, Hougaard has enjoyed his time at Wasps thus far and is looking forward to playing in a fully fit squad.
Hougaard added: “I’m loving it at Wasps, the environment is really positive, it’s great to be amongst such a great squad and coaching staff, everyone here has made life so much easier for me to adapt and fit in.
“It’s always tough when quite of the guys and a big chunk of the squad is injured, guys like Ryan Mills coming back is always great to see and it’s obviously going to strengthen the squad.
“A lot of my career I’ve played on the wing, the last few years I’ve played at nine but for me it’s very exciting and I really enjoy it.
“I’m not so phased about scoring tries it’s more about playing off other players and creating things.”
Wasps have been without Ryan Mills since September 2020 with a foot injury and Hougaard cannot wait to see his former Worcester teammate in action as he nears a return to the pitch.
He said: “Ryan [Mills] is a massively talented player, he’s one of the best players I played with at the [Worcester] Warriors, he’ll make a big difference with his presence and physical ability.
“He’s such a skillful player, his skills are unreal, he reads the game really well, you can see when he joins certain drills and sessions, he’s a natural rugby player, he’s got it all.
“He’s had a very bad injury and a few operations, I know what a big relief and a long road it’s been for him to come back, it’s been such a long time, almost two years, it’s really tough mentally.
“Not only should the fans be excited but I’m also excited to see him play again.”
Wasps clash with Leicester takes place on Sunday, January 9 with kick-off at 3pm at the Coventry Building Society Arena.