WASPS Attack Coach John Mitchell expects the club’s opening European Rugby Champions Cup match to be a “humdinger” when they entertain Munster at the Coventry Building Society Arena.
The Coventry club begin their European campaign this weekend against two time champions Munster with the Irish side currently in the midst of a COVID-19 outbreak.
Munster have registered 22 additional players ahead of this weekend’s clash with the majority of their senior players either isolating at home or yet to return to Ireland following the club’s abandoned tour of South Africa.
And Wasps Attack Coach Mitchell insists the game will be a humdinger despite the Covid related issues surrounding Munster’s squad.
Mitchell said: “First and foremost is that everyone at Munster is safe – Munster pride their whole year on European rugby, they’ve got huge history in this tournament.
“We don’t think for one minute that they won’t be coming with a stong side full of internationals – it’ll be a humdinger, it should be full-on.
“Europe for us is very important – we have rich history in this competition – we’re very ambitious as players and coaches so we want to progress in this tournament as far as we can.
“It’s a wonderful tournament, it’s a knock-out tournament, knock-out rugby is some of the best rugby that you can witness and be exposed to.”
Wasps come into the game on the back of five straight defeats in all competitions after suffering a 32-31 loss at Worcester Warriors last weekend.
And Mitchell refuses to blame the club’s mounting injury problems for Wasps slump in form stressing the need to improve their teamwork.
Mitchell added: “We were naturally very disappointed – ultimately it’s about progressing as a group and as individuals – we make no excuses, we need to find a way to get better.
“Injuries is an easy excuse at the end of the day – it’s presented opportunities for other young players within the squad and the challenge is to become cohesive as a team.
“It puts a greater demand on teamwork and that’s something we’ve got to continue to work on even though some of these youngsters have been given opportunities a lot earlier than expected.
“We’re suffering a little bit at the moment and having to work our way out of a difficult situation but that’s rugby, we’ve got to find a way which is always the challenge when you’re not getting it right.”
Mitchell previously worked with Wasps as assistant coach during the 1999/00 season and returned to the club this summer following a three-year spell working under Eddie Jones at England.
The 57-year-old admitted it was a simple decision to return to club rugby following a difficult international period that was disrupted by the ongoing pandemic.
He said: “It was an easy decision actually in the end, I had a normal chat and at the end said: ‘Eddie, I’m done mate, thanks very much. You’ve now got the opportunity to find someone else.’
“I think at 57 years of age I value things differently in my life, and just made a decision that I felt that I wanted to get out of international rugby at that point.
“You’re sick of the bubbles, sick of the time away from home and I wanted to look at returning to club rugby.
“If a gold medal was important to me and a World Cup, if that was my main priority, then maybe my decision would be different, but I value life more than just winning a World Cup.
“I was here 21 years ago and what’s very encouraging and was a huge persuasion in my decision to come here is that the DNA of the club is very much the same as when I was here before.”
Wasps host Munster on Sunday, December 12 with kick-off at 3.15pm at the CBS Arena.