Wasps may have assembled a star-studded squad ahead of the new Aviva Premiership Rugby season but wing Tom Howe hopes that success in the Singha Premiership Rugby 7s Finals on Sunday will shine a light on the club’s academy players.
Wasps qualified for the last eight by finishing second to Exeter Chiefs in Group B at Sandy Park, and they will face Harlequins in the third quarter-final at the Ricoh Arena after losing to Chiefs in the final group game.
The club has strengthened significantly in the off-season, with the likes of Danny Cipriani, former Scotland centre Nick De Luca and Australian back Kurtley Beale joining an already strong side.
But Howe, who scored two tries at Sandy Park in the Singha 7s group stage, hopes to impress again and put his name into the hat ahead of the new Aviva Premiership Rugby campaign.
“Winning would give us a lot of momentum. Last year the boys were runners-up and this year we are desperate to go one better, and take that into the 15s season,” he said.
“We needed a wake-up call against Chiefs and we got it.
“I think we took it too lightly despite the experience we had in the team, so we need to knuckle down this weekend and put in a good performance.
“With all the new signings coming into the squad, like Danny and Kurtley, it is a great chance for the younger guys to put a marker down and show everyone what we have got. It’s a big day.”
Howe, 21, admits he is in awe at Cipriani’s ability in training and is impressed with how quickly he has settled back into the club.
But while Cipriani is preparing for a potential debut against Chiefs in Aviva Premiership Rugby next month, Howe is hoping to soften them up beforehand and get revenge for their group stage loss.
“It would have been nice to beat Exeter at Sandy Park because the two clubs have played each other a lot recently, and we will be ready for them if we play them again in the final,” he added.
“Cup rugby and tournament rugby is always big and to have fans from eight teams at the Ricoh will be awesome.
“The fans have a fancy dress theme going on so that will be cool, and will add to the occasion.
“I have done 7s in the past and I know it gives you confidence as a young player. It is hard to go into a 15s environment, so to master 7s first is important.”
Eight teams will play for the first silverware of the season in the Singha Premiership Rugby 7s Series Finals from 2pm at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry on Sunday 7 August. For tickets visit wasps.co.uk/tickets
Quarter Final 1 – Cardiff Blues v Sale Sharks
Quarter Final 2 – Exeter Chiefs v Northampton Saints
Quarter Final 3 – Harlequins v Wasps
Quarter Final 4 – Newcastle Falcons v Ospreys