Wasps back-row prodigy Jack Willis believes there are “memories to be made” as he looks ahead to this weekend’s clash against Saracens in the Aviva Premiership Rugby semi-finals.
Both mouth-watering, final-four matches take place on Saturday, with Wasps and Saracens meeting at Allianz Park followed by Exeter Chief’s hosting of Newcastle Falcons.
Willis, who has been nominated for the Land Rover Discovery of the Season Award, has enjoyed a superb campaign thus far having broken into the Wasps first team and captured a place on England’s tour to South Africa this summer after a series of dominant displays.
The 21-year-old featured from the bench four times last season but not in the Aviva Premiership Rugby semi-finals or final, and can’t wait to fire into action on Saturday.
“I’m excited, it’s a massive opportunity for the club and it’s a great stage to play on,” said Willis.
“That’s what you strive towards all season, to be in these semi-finals, that’s always the target and we’ve got to press on with a big challenge ahead.
“We know we’ve got to bring our best game to get into the final.
“This season we did have a couple of bumps along the way and I think that was affected a lot by a heavy amount of injuries.
Dai Young previews Saturday’s semi final against @Saracens
— Wasps Rugby (@WaspsRugby) May 16, 2018
“That caused a bit of disruption but we’ve really grouped together as a squad and I think that’s starting to pay off at this time of the season, which is when you need it.”
Standing in the Coventry side’s path en route to the Aviva Premiership Rugby final is the challenging task of a do-or-die clash at the home of 2016 champions Saracens.
The north-London club have beaten Wasps twice this season, 38-15 at the Ricoh Arena in January and 38-19 at Allianz Park in October, incidentally Willis’ first Aviva Premiership Rugby start.
“I’ve learned loads since that game,” he added. “That was my first start in the league back then and I’ve learned a lot in the games since.
“Being around the players more regularly you pick up lots of different things and just gain that experience.
“The quality we’ve had here in the back row has been great for me to learn off and watch their games, see what I could improve.
“I’m really looking forward to going back there (Allianz Park) now.”
With James Haskell, Danny Cipriani, Guy Thompson and Kyle Eastmond all leaving Wasps this summer the players are well aware that the Aviva Premiership Rugby semi-final could mark their final appearances for the club.
Emotions may be high, but Willis says focus is firmly on victory.
“You always want the lads leaving to go on a high,” added 6ft 3in Willis. “But they’ll be the first ones to say themselves, they want to focus on the game and if you do that and get the result – that’s where the memories are to be made.
“That’s the important thing, making sure everyone’s focused on the semi-final.
“It would be an incredible experience to reach the final and it’s something you look to as a young kid and want to be involved in those games.
“There’s a lot of hard work to go in this weekend first but if that came about it would be an incredible opportunity.”