Wasps are facing an outside half crisis before the season has started with veteran Jimmy Gopperth set to miss most the Premiership campaign after undergoing knee reconstruction that could keep him out for up to nine months.
With Danny Cipriani having moved to Gloucester, Wasps now face a No10 dilemma heading into their opening Premiership game with Worcester as All Black Lima Sopoaga is not due to arrive at the club from New Zealand until next week. England flanker Brad Shields is another late arrival from Super rugby having linked up with Wasps, who defeated Ulster in a pre-season friendly last night, this weekend.
Gopperth was injured in the pre-season loss to Connacht and has already undergone surgery on his ruptured ACL – the same injury that flanker Jack Willis suffered at the end of last season and will keep him out until into the New Year.
Continue reading below
Beyond 80 – Knocked
The injury raises series questions about Gopperth’s ability to make it back as he is 35-years-old and could miss the most, if not all of this season. The New Zealand born utility back, is insisting he is going to be part of the Wasps season sending a social media message from his hospital bed which said: “All fixed up!! Everything went perfect! Not the best start to the season but I’ll be training hard to ensure I can get back out there with the boys ASAP. Thanks for all the messages and support can’t wait to pull the new kit on with my Wasps brothers.”
With Sopoaga unavailable until he is able to get up to speed with the Wasps game plan, Dai Young, the director of rugby, will have to use those players who have managed to avoid injury in the pre-season matches. Billy Searle, who quit Bristol to join Wasps, played in the No10 role in last night’s 31-14 win over Ulster that saw England No8 Nathan Hughes score a hat-trick. Also capable of operating in the play-maker role is Rob Miller although he is a fullback option until Willie le Roux returns from his period with the Springboks on the Rugby Championship.
Young was delighted with Searle’s contribution against Ulster saying: “We brought him in because we knew he can do a job and he’s a young man who has to develop. He’s got players he can learn off as well, I thought he had a good game individually, and normally if the number 10 plays well then the whole back line does. He did himself proud tonight and he showed what a good signing he is going to be.”
You may also enjoy:
Sign up to our mailing list here and we’ll keep you up to the minute with weekly updates from the world of rugby.