Three games in, two wins, ten points on the board and ten tries scored. Poor Christian Wade has hardly touched the ball in the opposition twenty-two, but I am sure his moment will come and he will start getting more reward for his hard work.
The new lads from the championship have started pretty well, with Billy Searle and Michael Le Bourgeois both, in spells, catching the eye. The latter I thought became increasingly influential in the game vs Leicester, which can only be a positive sign. As always with Wasps, there have been some moments of frustration, with the first twenty minutes of the second half today possibly the most exasperating. Dai Young made the point after the game about how he told his players at half time how a sending off can change both the mentality of the opposition and the referee, and perhaps that was reflected in how that period in the game panned out. When Wasps beat Quins last season away, when down to 14, it would be interesting to watch it back from a more neutral viewpoint, and see what impact that decision had on how the game was refereed afterwards, and if Wasps possibly got more of the 50/50 calls after Kyle Eastmond was sent off.
Despite these frustrations and inconsistencies, the biggest positive so far for me though is the situation in the front row. Last season, I do not think that anyone would argue that Jake Cooper-Woolley and either Simon McIntyre or Matt Mullan were our first choice props. Tom Cruse won a player of the season award at hooker. Three games in, and only Cruse has featured (and has not started the last two matches), with the other three on the treatment table. Such a scenario would have caused huge issues last term. This season, not a problem, in fact the complete opposite. An area of potential weakness has suddenly become more of an area of strength.
Step forward Will Stuart, Kieran Brookes, Ben Harris and Zurab Zhvania. Of the four, only Brookes is a ‘household’ name, but all have been superb so far. Strong in the scrum, all contributing in open play, and each busting a gut every time they have pulled on the Wasps colours. Those far more qualified than me will be better placed to go into the finer details of ‘prop play’, but certainly in the case of Will Stuart, the more I seem him, the more impressive he looks. As a more than handy prop, Young must be relishing the situation, given when last season’s first two picks at loosehead and first choice tight head return, competition for places will be even stronger. None of the three are guaranteed to come back into the team in my view, which is a really healthy place to be in. From what has been an area of concern for supporters, Wasps suddenly seem really well stocked in the propping department, with big things also anticipated from Tom West, who graduated from the academy for the start of the season.
Will Stuart, aged 12.
Tommy Taylor is back playing well again, and almost seems like a new signing, given the frustrations he endured with injury last season. I think all supporters are hoping he can stay fit and healthy, so he can remind everyone what a talented player he is. With Cruse impressing, and Ashley Johnson now back, Wasps seem to be sitting fairly pretty all of a sudden, in all three of the front row positions.
Wasps have got two tough looking away fixtures coming up now, where all of the players mentioned above are going to be tested further. Wasps are long overdue a win at Sale, and this Saturday would be a great time to do it. There seems a chance that Willie le Roux may be back, which would be a real bonus, and if not, reports suggest that certainly he should be back in club colours for the Newcastle trip.
It is already shaping up to be a memorable season. Thanks for reading and enjoy the upcoming fixtures.