Numerous past and present Wasps players have paid tribute to Ashley Johnson after the club bid farewell to him this week, bringing an end to his eight-year stay. They showered the South African loose forward with praise on social media, with the term “legend” being frequently used to describe him.
James Haskell, who played alongside the 34-year-old in the back row for five years, hailed him as “an incredible player, teammate and all-round hero”, while current Wasps hooker Tom Cruse said how he had “done so much for the club, gave everything on the field and had time for everybody off it”.
Many players have also noted how the three-cap Springbok would always give 100 per cent, which was abundantly clear for anyone who watched him play.
Not only was he a tireless and ferocious ball carrier, but his commitment to the team was measured by his switch to the front row in 2015 to play as a hooker, having only dabbled in that position before moving to Wasps.
What an incredible player, team mate and all around hero.
I loved playing alongside Ashley https://t.co/Y6TBuN74GR
— James Haskell (@jameshaskell) June 10, 2020
— Tom Cruse (@cruse_dog2) June 10, 2020
One of the greats. Always gave 100% and was a privelage to play with. https://t.co/GaiiGHVETq
— Dan Robson (@d_jrobson) June 10, 2020
— Thomas Young (@_ThomasYoung) June 10, 2020
I have got so much respect for this bloke! Gave 100% for this club! https://t.co/sCaKNiTawB
— Tommy Taylor (@Tommy2Taylor) June 10, 2020
— Josh Bassett (@_JoshBassett) June 10, 2020
Legend ??? https://t.co/AM7OpRV32L
— Malakai Fekitoa (@MalakaiFekitoa) June 10, 2020
— jimmy gopperth (@jimmygopps) June 10, 2020
Club legend! ? https://t.co/Ru9uyRgddx
— Rob Miller (@robmiller89) June 10, 2020
— Ed Jackson (@edjackson8) June 10, 2020
Sad news! Ashley was a huge part of the club! Good luck ash x
— Guy Thompson (@GuyThompson87) June 10, 2020
? absolute legend https://t.co/6CVA1pnqUh
— Kieran Brookes (@KBrookes3) June 10, 2020
— Jack Owlett (@JackOwlett) June 10, 2020
The disappointing thing for many fans is that Johnson did not receive the send-off that such a loyal servant to any team would deserve, with his last match turning out to be a 27-0 home loss to Bordeaux-Begles in the Challenge Cup in January.
But that is the reality of the situation that many departing players are finding themselves in during the Covid-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, Johnson leaves Wasps with the cemented status as a club legend, having played almost 200 games during his time at Adams Park and the Ricoh Arena.
Johnson arrived at Wasps in 2012 from the Cheetahs in Super Rugby, but there is no confirmation as to what the next step in his career will be. He was initially targeted by Jake White as a possible Bulls signing but has now been linked to an RFU coaching job. His Wasps departure was announced alongside Charlie Matthews, who is set to join Japanese side Kamaishi Seawaves.
'It was really tough. My mental health was challenged, so it was awesome to come back and perform at the level I know I can'
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) March 31, 2019
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