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Ashley Johnson and Wasps do not believe the hype

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Wasps’ seven-match winning run was ended last weekend by Gloucester Rugby and hooker Ashley Johnson hopes it could prove a blessing in disguise.

The South African hooker – an ever-present so far this season in Aviva Premiership Rugby – was part of the team that slipped to a narrow 13-10 reversal at Kingsholm.

Having climbed from eighth to third on the strength of their winning run, many were tipping Wasps for huge things as the plaudits piled up.

But the 29-year-old Johnson – who has three South Africa caps to his name – is too savvy to believe the hype and insists everyone’s feet are firmly on the ground at the Ricoh.

And with Leicester Tigers visiting next for one of the most mouth-watering clashes of this – or any other – season, the Springbok is back to business as normal.

“We knew it would be tough out there against a good Gloucester Rugby,” he said.  

“We are back in and know that we need to put in a good performance against Leicester Tigers. When you have won seven games in a row there is a bit of pressure that comes with that.

“We know that other teams set up their games and prepare for us – we have a bit of a target on our backs.

“There was no pressure within the camp, we are very realistic. There may be talk from the outside but we have always said the top six is the goal – it is other people talking about the top four.

“We have been playing good rugby and the guys are enjoying it.

“We were not quite there at the level we had been for the past few weeks but we have got the chance of that old rivalry against the Tigers to put it right.”

The table makes for riveting reading after 15 rounds of games, with barely a cigarette paper separating fourth down to eighth.

Wasps are currently fourth and with the wind still very much in their sails, but consistency is the key according the converted back-rower and now full-time hooker.

“We are quite aware how close it is, there are only five points between fourth and eighth in the table. One or two losses and you are back down out the top six,” he added.  

“We are not getting carried away with the good run, we still front up and keep putting in the hard work.

“Like every rugby player, if you start winning game and playing good rugby then there is a different atmosphere around the club.

“Everyone is very happy, there is a nice relaxed atmosphere around the place – we are all working hard – but the bunch of guys we have here are great – there are some great characters.

“And a happy club makes it easier to keep going, playing a good brand of rugby.”
 

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