Defence coach Ian Costello has revealed the specialist training that has turned Wasps into the outstanding breakdown team in the Gallagher Premiership.
Costello believes the input of Matt Everard, the club’s Transition, Skills and Breakdown Coach, has been a key factor in allowing Wasps to become the kings of the break down with Jack Willis leading the statistics in turnovers across the Premiership with Thomas Young also a key player in this area of the game. Willis is expected to be fit to take on Bath on Friday night despite a hip injury and Wasps will also have the breakdown power of fit-again England flanker Brad Shields to add to their squad.
Having beaten champions Exeter 34-5, Wasps have shown they have the strength in depth to mount another title challenge. They lost to Exeter in last season’s play-off final but delivered an improved forward power led by captain Joe Launchbury to supplement their outstanding ball stealing at the breakdown.
Costello said: “We do a lot of our contact work off the pitch and Matt Everard concentrates on contact skills and we do an 18-20 mins block every week outside the main training session and that has been a massive addition to the programme.
“We fit that around the Covid testing and we have a window that means we have the testing at 9am and at 10am we are ready to go in three groups; our carry, our clean out and defence groups.
“That has been a big part of what we saw against Exeter and it about being well prepared and thinking outside the box with this Covid situation.
“We have a highly connected group that are enjoying themselves and to defend the way we want to then you have to be in really good condition. Our strength and conditioning department has got the boys so rugby ready and fit and specific to the way we want to play. Our forwards were awesome (against Exeter), our scrum and maul. We conceded five points and that is fantastic and we defended our line and those were key points in any match.
“Jack is not ruled out and is still in with a shot for the Bath game and he would love to play. The next 48 hours will be key and we have Brad Shields, Marcus Watson and Matteo Minozzi fit and if they come through training tomorrow that will be a timely boost.”
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