Lee Blackett has warned his Wasps players to expect a ferocious backlash from a Montpellier side heavily beaten by Leinster when they meet at the Ricoh Arena on Friday night in the Heineken Champions Cup.
Montpellier, who included England’s Alex Lozowski and French internationals Paul Willemse and Guilhem Guirado, were thumped 35-14 on their own ground by Leinster last Saturday while Wasps opened their campaign with a bonus point 24-8 win over the Dragons.
That match in Newport saw returning England internationals Dan Robson, Jack Willis and Joe Launchbury – plus Wales’ Will Rowlands – make significant contributions and finding time to give the internationals a break in the coming weeks is one of the major challenges facing Blackett.
“We have spoken about the Montpellier DNA. They are very big, physical, confrontational and will come at you,” said Blackett, who knows he will need Wasps his big hitters on Champions Cup duty on Friday night.
“They are one of the biggest teams in the Top 14 and have internationals throughout the team. It is about us not allowing them to impose their game on us.
A couple of late tries from the forwards helped @WaspsRugby on their way to an important Round 1 victory ?
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) December 13, 2020
“In their last away game, they beat Clermont and were outstanding. That was Montpellier at their best and you cannot take them lightly because they came up against an outstanding Leinster team. They put Montpellier under a lot of pressure and there are things we will take from that game. The first round showed how well French teams can travel.
“This year’s format means you cannot allow a game to go by and one defeat and you feel you are out of the competition. You may need bonus points and wins in every game to get out of the group. We have to go for this and although you do have to rest your internationals, when you hear that European music you want to play. The opportunities we are creating is pleasing but it’s about taking them and we are coming up with mistakes.
“There were loads of little things but there are signs we are moving towards where we want to be. A lot of teams are finding it tough when you have internationals coming back in the middle of the week and training has been disjointed which means you have to be adaptable. We cannot use that as an excuse. We will rest players at different times and we will keep tight about when – it will be at different points.”
Tom Willis, Ben Harris and James Gaskell are expected to be available and an initial scan on Alfie Barbeary’s calf injury suffered against Dragons suggests he too could also face Montpellier.
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— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) December 14, 2020
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