After a disastrous World Cup, changes are afoot with England and Wasps scrum-half Joe Simpson knows that now is the time to shine if he is to add his solitary cap.
The 27-year-old finished last season in fine form for Dai Young’s side but a knee injury at the end of the season ruled him out of Stuart Lancaster’s plans for their pre-tournament training camps.
Since then Lancaster’s England have crashed out of the World Cup at the group stages and Aviva Premiership Rugby is now back in full swing.
Simpson started Wasps’ opener at the Stoop last Friday as they slipped to a narrow defeat to Harlequins.
Off-season signing Dan Robson is also breathing down Simpson’s neck for the Wasps No.9 jersey but the England international – he won his sole cap during the 2011 World Cup – insists he has big ambitions this season.
“Dan (Robson) has come in and that is definitely going to keep me on my toes,” he said.
“He played well off the bench last week and I am desperate to keep improving. I am coming into my prime now.
“I felt like last year was the best season of my career and I still want to push on, there are quite a few areas for me work on to keep improving.
“I want to be managing the team, bossing them around as one of the senior players now, I still have real ambitions with England as well.
“After the World Cup there may be some changes round there so I need to make sure that I am playing at the top of my game so that if any chance comes my way, I am ready to take it.”
It has been a summer of change for Wasps this off-season with some experienced names like Jimmy Gopperth and George Smith coming on board.
And while their season opened with a loss, Simpson is very excited about the potential of the side.
“Jimmy and Ruaridh (Jackson) are both great players,” he added.
“It feels like we have two brand new tens this year because Ruaridh only played about half an hour last season before he got injured.
“Andy Goode was great for us last year but those two offer us a bit more from an attacking point of view which is exciting for guys like Elliot (Daly) and Christian (Wade) out wide.
“In the forwards George Smith is a huge signing, the amount of captaincy and leadership experience we gain from one transfer is massive and we have already seen that in training, the coaches are keen to get his view on a lot of things.”
New signings might be catching the eye – All Black Charles Piutau will be linking up with Wasps next month – but there are plenty of big names already firmly installed at the Ricoh.
The likes of Joe Launchbury and James Haskell have returned from World Cup duty and will be available for selection this weekend when they take on Bath Rugby.
But it is No.8 Nathan Hughes, who qualifies for England on residency grounds in June next year, that Simpson is most excited about.
“Nathan was the best No.8 in the Premiership last season,” he added.
“His abilitly to get over the gainline and offload was better than anything I have seen from any other No.8s.
“He has got all the attributes and he is still so raw, he can still improve in every area and I am sure England will ask the question – they would be stupid not to.”
To see all of the 2015-16 Aviva Premiership Rugby season fixtures, please click here #AvivaPrem