TOP BAR - Fixtures

Wasps’ Craig Hampson wary of former Bristol Rugby team-mates

Craig Hampson says that Wasps must front up as they face his old side Bristol at the Ricoh Arena this Sunday.

The sides this Sunday will know each other well, having faced one another just three weeks ago as part of the pre-season schedule, not to mention the members of both squads who have previously pulled on the opposing jersey.

With the likes of Tom Varndell, Jack Wallace and David Lemi all ex-Wasps in Bristol’s ranks, Craig Hampson will be on the Wasps’ side of the dugouts come Sunday, having previously played in Bristol colours.

As the scrum half prepares to face his former side this week, he has nothing but commendations for his old side, who have aquitted themselves well in the top-flight despite two losses in the opening two games.

“It will definitely be a tough game on Sunday. Bristol have recruited well during the off-season, brought in some big name players; Tusi Pisi seems to be running the show for them and the likes of Jon Fisher and a few others, they seem to be looking strong this year.

“They’ve changed their playing philosophy a little bit, tightening up their game, and the boys over there seem to be really confident. They’ve lost two games but they’ve pushed both sides close and they’ll be raring to go this weekend, looking for their first win of the campaign.

“Now that they’re here they’ll want to stay. They’ve got big backing, Steve Lansdown has put a lot of time and money into the club, sticking with them when they didn’t quite get promoted.

“They’ve built a brilliant stadium down there which will be amazing for the supporters, they’ve recruited well and they’ll be confident that they can mix it in the Premiership.

“Bristol have a habit of signing some big-name experienced players and mixing that with some of the academy products they have, and that seems to have worked well again for them this season, with Tusi Pisi, Jon Fisher and a number of others.

“When I was there they had Dwayne Peel and that recipe seems to work well for them. They have a great squad, a big squad, and that will really help them going through the year.

“Some teams don’t have the numbers they have, they’ve got a big squad, and that will keep them strong even when there are a few injuries.

“I know a lot of the boys still there. I still speak to a lot of them, they had a tough pre-season, were relatively happy with their first game of the campaign but not necessarily as happy with last week’s so they will definitely want to put that right when they come to our place on Sunday.

“They’ve got a good set of coaches there, a good squad and they will only get better as the season progresses.”

The pre-season clash between the two sides ended in a narrow 19-9 win for the men in black and gold but Hampson admits Wasps were disappointed with their performance on that day and will need to improve on that showing come Sunday.

“They will definitely be fired up. We went down there in pre-season, weren’t happy with the way we played, but credit has to go to Bristol for they way they played and they pushed us really close. It will be a similar challenge this weekend and if we don’t turn up again then we’ll be in real trouble.”

Wasps go into the game searching for a third successive win from the opening three games. Hampson says that the training ground is a great place after the 100% winning start to the season.

“It’s been a great start and everyone is buzzing around the place. There’s a real energy, everyone is keen to work hard, all helping each other with extras, it’s a great team environment and we’re seeing that translate out on the pitch.

“Energy has been a strong aspect of our performances so far, getting off the line in pairs and threes and making big shots, which just shows that everyone is keen to work hard and work for each other.

“I think that’s only going to keep improving as we go on. We know we haven’t played as well as we can do and we’ve still won two big games.”

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