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James Gaskell and Wasps forwards happy to be unsung heroes

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Big names like Danny Cipriani and Christian Wade in the Wasps backline are grabbing the headlines so far this season but James Gaskell and the forward pack are happy to be the unsung heroes.

The 26-year-old lock has been a key cog in Wasps’ 100 percent start to the Aviva Premiership Rugby season – starting against Bath Rugby on the opening weekend and last week’s ten-try mauling of Bristol Rugby with a bench appearance in between against Leicester Tigers.

The likes of Cipriani  returning to his boyhood club and Wade tearing up defences have caught the eye – not to mention the likes of Kurtley Beale, Willie Le Roux and Kyle Eastmond who are all yet to start for their new club.

Eastmond came off the bench last weekend for his debut and when they all start to click then, in the words of Gaskell – ‘the backline is going to be special.’

But a backline is only as good as the ball it is provided with and the Wasps forwards this season, boosted by the acquisition of Matt Symons in the second row, have been immaculate.

“We have realised as our pack that a lot of our job is to provide the ball to our backs,” he said.

“If we can provide good front-foot ball then our backs will do the flashy stuff – we need to get them in the right part of the pitch. It’s not about flash for us.

“There is great strength in depth in this pack and that is going to be key for this squad. No-one can rest on their laurels, no-one can afford a quiet week or make a mistake.

“Look at someone like Alex Rieder who came in last week – there might not be as much noise made about him but he was fantastic.

“The guys in the pack are not really talked about but they do the hard yards for this team.”

Last week’s ten tries against Bristol at the Ricoh Arena was a warning shot to their Aviva Premiership Rugby rivals.

But Gaskell insists there is plenty more to come from this team – starting with their clash against Northampton Saints next weekend.

“It’s always good to have put that amount of points on a Premiership team – it was not the full 80-minute performance but we pushed right through to the final whistle,” he added.

“It was not a case of getting the bonus point at half-time and shutting up shop.

“There are a lot of positives we can take but there were also opportunities we have missed and if we are going to strive to be better then we have to look at that.

“We have not had a complete performance yet, first half against Exeter we were slow, we had a bad 20 minutes against Leicester where we let them get back into it.

“It is encouraging that we are still winning games – two of them with a bonus point and one away from home – but this weekend against Northampton will be a real test.”

The Saints lost home and away to Wasps last year, Rob Miller proving a scourge at Franklin’s Gardens, but Gaskell – who has plenty of competition for a spot in the second row alongside Symons, Joe Launchbury and Kearnan Myall, knows everything could change this time around.

“Our win there last year was pretty special – we went there with a  team that people expected to have a few points put on them and we got the win,” he added.

“The main thing with Northampton is to match the physicality of their pack up front.

“Then guys like Luther Burrell and Harry Mallinder are big lumps coming up the middle as well so we have to be ready for that.

“If you don’t stop them then it’s going to be a long day.”

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