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Simpson expects more from Wasps despite strong start

With back-to-back wins over teams who reached Aviva Premiership Rugby semi-finals last season, Wasps have been one of the most impressive teams in the first two weeks of the season – but Joe Simpson has warned that there is still work to do to become an 80-minute team.

The 28-year-old, who is in his testimonial season at the club, got his first start of the campaign against Leicester Tigers, as Wasps won at Welford Road for the first time since 2008.

That followed a win over Exeter Chiefs on the opening day of the season – a form of revenge for three defeats in as many league games last term.

As a result Wasps are sitting pretty with nine points from their first two matches before this weekend’s reception of Bristol Rugby.

But as pleased as Simpson has been with the opening displays of the campaign, he believes the team has not yet fully hit its straps.

“We are pretty happy with how things have gone so far,” he said.

“But there weren’t quite as many slaps on the back in the video session at the start of the week as you might think.

“We had some really good periods against Leicester but there were times when we switched off and that could have cost us.

“It would be quite possible for us to be sitting here after two games with one point, so we’ve got to be very happy to have nine.

“But we’ve got Bristol up next and we need to try to put together a performance for 80 minutes rather than 60.

“We’ve played them earlier this year (in pre-season) so we know how hard a game it’s going to be.

“Last weekend was good for me, it was my first full 80 minutes so it was good to get out there. I was even looking forward to our conditioning session at the start of the week.”

Guy Thompson, Christian Wade, Jimmy Gopperth all crossed against the Tigers, but it was Sam Jones – scorer of the third Wasps try – who really stood out for Simpson.

And he expects the flanker to kick on this season as Wasps begin the campaign without the injured James Haskell, and look to fill the void of the departed George Smith.

“The way Sam Jones put his body on the line was incredible,” added Simpson.

“The hits he put in, he was everywhere. He doesn’t always get the recognition he deserves, although he did go away with the Saxons in the summer.

“But he’s going to be one for the future, there’s no question. He’ll be an international if he keeps playing like that.”

In his tenth season at the club, Simpson is in a testimonial year with Wasps, as he supports MacMillan Cancer, School of Hard Knocks and the Dallaglio Foundation.

These will benefit from a programme of fundraising events, beginning with a Testimonial Dinner on October 19th at the Ricoh Arena.

Simpson, the longest-serving player at the club, said: “I’m humbled and honoured to be awarded a Testimonial Year and can’t wait to look back and celebrate the last ten years with Wasps.

“The club has played a massive role in my life and I know the committee have got some great ideas planned so I do hope as many supporters as possible are able to join us and help raise money for three fantastic charities that are very close to my heart.”

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