TOP BAR - Fixtures

James Gaskell: Wasps’ squad will step up to the plate

Wasps may be waving goodbye to some of their internationals over the next two months, but James Gaskell says the players left behind could not be more motivated to make their mark.

In good news for Wasps fans, Elliot Daly and Matt Mullan have been released back to the club, but England-wise James Haskell and Joe Launchbury are still sizable holes that need filling.

That’s not to mention the absences of Lorenzo Cittadini (Italy), Brad Davies (Wales) and Ruaridh Jackson (Scotland) – but according to Gaskell there’s no reason to fret.

And as Dai Young’s side look to transfer the European form that saw them top a group including titans Toulon, Bath Rugby and Leinster into Aviva Premiership Rugby, the second-row is adamant results will follow.

“It’s been a bit Jekyll and Hide in the Premiership so far, we go and perform really well one week and then we almost don’t turn up the week after,” said Gaskell, whose side will face Exeter Chiefs in the quarter-finals of the European Rugby Champions Cup.

“But as we’re missing a few boys through internationals over the next few weeks, it’s going to be an opportunity for people to step up and get game time.

“As Dai (Young) was emphasising earlier this week, he has faith in the entire squad and it’s a chance for boys who may be a little bit frustrated about not playing as much to stand out.

“In the second-row you look at the quality of James Cannon and Kearnan Myall, who both have a hell of a lot of talent and experience but have not played so much rugby. 

“It’s that competition week in and week and out, and it prepares us as the three of the five left – with Brad (Davies) and Joe (Launchbury) elsewhere – to step up.

“It’s throughout the team, with Nathan Hughes injured Guy Thompson has stepped up massively, Sam Jones came in and was man of the match (against Worcester) so it’s clear we have great depth.”

A Friday night clash at Northampton Saints is Wasps’ first port of call upon Aviva Premiership Rugby’s return – and a result either way could have big ramifications for their season.

Wasps are currently in sixth, nine points away from the top four, but victory at Franklin’s Gardens would see them leapfrog the Saints and keep their chase on track.

And Gaskell added: “Hopefully we can pick up a few extra wins over the period, and it’s about making the table as tight as possible.

“It’s great for fans when the Premiership is so close and there are so many teams in the mix, and if we can close the gap then anything can happen.”

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