So, rugby is back, and Wasps got off to a flier on Sunday to finish the first round of games in style. There were so many impressive performances, with the back row particularly prominent, but I thought for this post I would focus on a player who has quietly become a fixture in the match day twenty three and rarely gets a mention. Step forward Ben Harris.
When he arrived as injury cover in 2016, I hope it is not viewed as disrespectful to say that I did not know who he was. Dai Young who bought him in obviously knows a fair bit more about front row play, and following an impressive spell he became a permanent signing from the 2017/18 season.
During this time he has slowly worked himself into a position of real strength, selection wise. When you look at who he is competing against when everyone is fit (Simon McIntyre, Zurabi Zhvania, Tom West), that’s no easy task.
There’s a few things that I enjoy about him as a player. One is his scrummaging. If you look around some of the tight heads in the premiership, I genuinely cannot recall a game where he has experienced significant problems. I’d suggest that he is fairly destructive scrummaging wise, and particularly when he has Joe Launchbury in behind him, is very effective. Something I have tried to do more and more when watching rugby live is focusing on one player for ten minutes to learn from them in terms of positioning, reading of the game, etc. What stands out for me when I do this for him is his work rate. Tackles hard, hits breakdowns hard, carries hard. You could argue that these are minimum requirements for a prop, but it is the consistency that he does this that continues to impress me.
If you look around any rugby squad in the premiership, there are players like Ben Harris in most set ups. Unlikely to be called up for international honours, and outside of their own club, may not be well know to those who support other teams. For me though, it is players like him who are so crucial to success. Players who will just put their bodies on the line, week in, week out, and will never leave the pitch having not given it all. All in all, I just think he is a very effective player who is massively underrated.
To conclude, it will be interesting to see what happens selection wise on Friday. Given the game so quickly after is against Sale, I would predict wholesale changes. Squad rotation is going to be key, and thankfully Wasps probably have the most amount of players available they have had for many a year. The selected twenty three set the bar high on Sunday. Those selected on Friday need to set it higher.
Enjoy your rugby fix this week and thanks for reading.