1st Jul, 2022

RUGBY UNION - Willis: Wasps need to step up another level against Gloucester

JACK WILLIS insists Wasps need to find “another level” when they take on Gloucester at Kingsholm this weekend.

Willis helped Wasps claim a narrow win against Newcastle Falcons last weekend in a below par display from Lee Blackett’s side.

The back-row has only recently returned from a year-long knee injury sustained on England duty and has thoroughly enjoyed his return to the pitch.

However, Willis knows Wasps are in for a tough game on Saturday afternoon as the club try to keep their Gallagher Premiership play-off hopes alive.

Willis said: “Going to Gloucester is always a tough old game, the fans especially, Kingsholm always has a great atmosphere and they’ll be getting after us.

“For us it’s about focusing on ourselves, we weren’t particularly happy with how we played against Newcastle.

“We’re going to need to step up another level to go to Gloucester and get the win, they’re a very physical side and we’re going to need to front up there for sure.

“I’m absolutely loving it, it’s been a long old time since I’ve been playing regular rugby, to be back alongside the lads and back out there, it’s what I love doing.

“I feel very grateful and very fortunate every single minute I’m out there and to be out there with those boys is class.”

And having marked his return to action against Harlequins in February, Willis now hopes he can force his way back into England contention having been called up to the squad during their recent Six Nations campaign.

Willis added: “You always have those moments, rehab is a pretty dark place especially when it goes on for the course of a whole year, I had a period where there were multiple setbacks and it got pretty tough.

“I had that burning desire in me, I always wanted to make sure I gave it everything to get back and fortunately I was able to do so, it makes me very grateful for each game I play.

“It’s always an aspiration of mine to play for England, it’s a dream ever since I was a young lad and a big motivation of mine on a daily basis.

“The three games I did play for England were behind closed doors and I didn’t have family there, it’s a massive motivation of mine to push for an opportunity and have my family there.”

Victory over the Falcons ended a run of three straight defeats in the league and Willis believes there is more to come from Wasps this season.

He said: “The good news was that we got the win and we ground out the result and found a way, the disappointing thing from us as a group is we know that we’ve got a lot more to give, that wasn’t one of our best performances.

“The exciting thing is we were nowhere near our best and we still managed to beat a strong, niggly, Newcastle side in what was quite a tough game.

“We’ve got a lot more to come and a lot to improve on and we’ll be working hard on that this week.”

Wasps clash at Gloucester takes place on Saturday, April 2 with kick-off at 3pm at Kingsholm.

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