Wasps can ill-afford any more slip-ups between now and the end of the season but Andrea Masi is hoping home comforts will ultimately prove the difference in his side’s run-in.
As fate would have it Dai Young’s men are playing both Exeter Chiefs and Leicester Tigers – who stand above them in fourth and fifth respectively in the Aviva Premiership Rugby table – at the Ricoh Arena.
Wasps trail Exeter by five points for that coveted fourth spot and if all things go their way on Sunday in Coventry, they could steal a march on the race to the semi-finals.
They got back on track last time out with a heavy victory at London Welsh after losses to Saracens and Northampton Saints.
But according to Masi, it was the Northampton result in particular – in which they played much of the match with 14 men after Nathan Hughes’ red card – that proved they’ll be no soft touch heading into the next month of action.
“For sure, these next three games are going to be absolutely massive for us,” he said. “We were disappointed with the loss at Northampton but we showed that we are at the same level as them, and I think if we hadn’t played with 14 men for so long it would have been a different result.
“After two losses in a row it was important to win at London Welsh, and I was really pleased to get 80 minutes – I had some injuries before the Six Nations so it’s been a while since I’ve played so much for Wasps.
“The Ricoh is a fantastic stadium and we are very fortunate to have the next two games in front of a home crowd, when you’re playing in front of 20,000 fans instead of the 4,000 at Adams Park you are inspired to play even better.
“But for me nothing has changed with the way we’ve been preparing for the games, we have just got better as the season has gone on. Both Exeter and Leicester games will be decided by very narrow margins, so hopefully playing at home will give us an advantage.”
However, should all go awry on Sunday the Leicester game may not take on quite as much meaning, as the Chiefs could pull ten points clear with a bonus-point victory of their own.
In football terms it’d be the proverbial six-pointer – but Italy international Masi says his side have been seeking to replicate that big-game pressure all week.
“It’s definitely do or die against Exeter, it’s a massive game for us and for them as well,” he added. “We are going to have pressure, that’s for sure, but we are training to play with this type of pressure during the week. We try to practice the game situation and we are confident we can deal with it.
“It’s fantastic to play alongside some of our players who are in very good form, and we’re confident that will continue in the next three games.”
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