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'We are very, very close. Seeing that happen to him was just horrible'

By Liam Heagney

Trending on RugbyPass

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Tom Willis, the 22-year-old younger brother of injured England back row Jack, has spoken about he managed to get his head around the “horrible” injured suffered by his brother last Saturday to go out and star for Wasps in the Gallagher Premiership the following day.  

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Willis was shaken by seeing his 24-year-old brother suffer the devastating knee injury that has ended his season, but he turned around less than 24 hours later to score a first-half try in Wasps’ 17-13 league win at Worcester. 

“It was tricky in the build-up, the day before, that evening leading into it, thinking about Jack, seeing how was doing and the morning of the game I was quite concerned,” explained Tom, reflecting on a weekend of vastly differing emotions for the Willis siblings. 

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Eddie Jones on Jack Willis’ injury and the win over Italy

“He had a scan that day (Sunday) but the thing is you have just got to get your head around it. You have got a game and you switch in for the team and everyone got around me as well, I got a lot of support. Once it kicked off the game was the only thing on my mind by then.  

“We are very, very close. Seeing that happen to him was just horrible. It hurt everyone. It wasn’t nice to see. No one enjoys seeing that. Most people don’t know what happened in the (England) game after that because they were so gutted for him. 

“In terms of the risk it [that injury] can happen to me, it’s just the nature of the game. It can happen to anyone and it is not going to do you any good speaking about that heading into games. You have just got to focus on your job.”

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Wasps boss Lee Blackett was thrilled with how back row Tom handled that mental challenge of playing so soon having seen his brother get so badly injured. “Really good. I didn’t speak to Tom the previous day but other coaches had and he was pretty down and you could tell on game day. 

“It was one of those where I was even thinking Saturday, do you get in contact? Maybe the best thing was to let Tom settle a bit. Such a ridiculously tight pair, they are. I knew Sunday would be a difficult challenge for Tom but the way he got over it, the way he played.

“He found out briefly just before kick-off that his brother hadn’t done his ACL so he got a bit of positive news in terms of that and it probably gave him that little bit of a buzz. What a performance from him. 

“I thought he was brilliant, especially the first half. Really, really happy with him because it was tough for us all to watch on Saturday, but when it is your brother and especially the relationship they have it must have been very difficult. 

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“I was massively concerned,” he added, outlining his general concerns for the Wasps team following Willis’ injury with England. “I knew how it had impacted on me and some of our staff… I saw how upset people were and gutted for him. But the last thing Brad Shields said in the changing rooms before we ran out was there was one guy who would love to be here with us today, let’s go and put a performance out for him.”

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'We are very, very close. Seeing that happen to him was just horrible'

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