Hello. Enjoyed this month? Wins against Leicester, Toulouse and Saracens certainly exceeded expectations, with disappointing performances against Sale and Munster perhaps a demonstration of the inconsistencies that exist currently in this group.
For this post, I thought I’d share three reasons to be cheery and three reasons for concern. Let’s start positive.
- Back in November, I wrote the following; ‘I’d also like to see one of the four tight heads really make that starting berth their own – I personally like JTA as an impact option so he’d always be in the 23, but who the first choice should be is very debatable. Big Biyi?’ Step aside, Mystic Meg, Daddy’s home. Biyi Alo has been brilliant in the three wins mentioned. Against Leicester I was sitting directly in line with the vital tackle he made in the dying moments that denied Leicester a two on one. Against Toulouse and Saracens, he was wonderfully prominent either side of the ball. He’s a real asset I think and when you throw in Vincent Koch and the rumoured signing of John Ryan, that position is suddenly looking very strong moving forward.
- This month we have seen Paulo Odogwu, Ryan Mills (fleetingly), Dan Robson, Joe Launchbury and Malakai Fekitoa don Wasps colours again. There’s been a positive update on Jack Willis. Wasps have not been impacted hugely by six nations call ups, so now have chance to integrate these big players back in and continue this momentum. It’s just great to see them in the team again isn’t it?
- The six nations exception of course is Alfie Barbeary. He was simply outstanding against both Leicester and Toulouse so it was no surprise to see him get the call up. We all worry about how Wasps players will get on while they are away, particularly with England, but I think it’s pleasing to see him getting selected despite his relative inexperience to date. Intrigued to see how he gets used. I suspect, if Courtney Lawes starts at 6, you’ll see him and Sam Simmonds both on the bench, ready for a big second half impact in games. Either that or he’ll be in camp for the entire tournament and not play a minute….
Three areas of concerns.
- Jimmy’s off isn’t he? I get it, it’s probably his last contract and ultimately he’s got to do what right for him and his family. I am disappointed though that Wasps are letting him go. The club isn’t exactly flush with inside centres of his quality and this month has shown he’s still got miles left in the tank at this level. I think Ryan Mills is a great player, but if Wasps are relying on him to be fit from this point, there’s not a lot of evidence to support that this, sadly, is a sensible strategy.
- Vaea Fifita was confirmed this week to be moving to Scarlets. Again, I understand his decision. It’s a short career and with the reduced salary cap, Wasps obviously couldn’t make the figures work. For me though, it does throw a wider question about how we feel about these one season southern hemisphere signings. There’s been a few in recent years. George Smith. Kurtley Beale. Charles Piatau. All made an impact but I wish I’d seen more of them in Wasps colours. Is it worth having a player in for one season? I’m not sure.
- Jacob Umaga’s consecutive red cards must be tough for him to swallow. Under the current guidance I actually agree they are correct but wind the clock back not long ago and they’d be sin bins at worst. Wasps have had a few this season though and fingers crossed they’ll stay the right side of the law this month. If they do, when you throw in the players coming back, it could be quite the month…..
Thanks for reading. Have a good week.