Having seen his Wasps side finish third in last year’s Premiership table, Dai Young is conscious that there needs to be big improvements if the semi-finalists are to equal or better that achievement.
Young told RugbyPass, “Without beating around the bush, it wasn’t good enough last season. We conceded too many easy points really. We know we’re an attacking team and we know we want to score tries but at the end of the day, a try saved is just as good as a try scored.
“From our point of view, if we want to achieve something the defence has to improve. We believe last year, every area wasn’t where we wanted it to be, although we finished third and we lost to Saracens in the semi-final – nothing to be ashamed of there – I certainly don’t believe we played anything like we can right through the season.”
Acknowledging the areas that came in for criticism, Young explains that having reached the Premiership final in 2017, an element of complacency may have wormed its way into his players heads and that they were playing catch up ever since.
Young said, “The [Premiership] final, the year before last, subconsciously made us feel a little bit better than we were, to be quite honest with you. We came into the start of the season and lost four out of six which wasn’t the ideal start. That meant we had to have a real solid block in the middle which meant we overused players. I don’t think we rotated the squad enough throughout that middle part of the season because we were chasing our tail a little bit.”
By the start of the 2017/18 season, confidence was high but was perhaps a little misplaced. Young continues, “We didn’t feel it at the start of last season to be honest with you, but certainly we were over confident in our attack. We thought we’d always score tries, we’d always do well, but the early part of the season showed us that wasn’t the case. After four or five weeks we had to change a lot of things in attack.”
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Young has added Nottingham’s Ian Costello as his defence coach and promoted Andy Titterell to forwards coach. He explained how they are aiming to avoid the pitfalls of last season.
Young said, “We haven’t made the same mistake this season. We have tinkered with our attack to make sure we’re not as predictable as we were last season, so you learn from things like that. Set piece wise, we’ve spent a lot more time preseason that we probably did last season, on it. And defence has always been a work-on with us.”
Having dealt with rumours of player revolt over the club’s training facilities last season, RugbyPass asked Young what the latest developments are on that front. Young responded, “The management team has a group working on that. I believe they’ve identified a site for the new training facility and they’re working hard on that. What I’ve said to the players is let’s just get on with things. We’re not in a real bad place, things could be better but there’s no excuse really. There’s nothing that should hold us back on that front. I’ve got total trust in the off-field management team that they’re doing their damndest to try and get the training facility up and running as quick as possible. We know it’s not going to be this season, maybe next season, maybe the season after. All I want the players to focus on is the performances and what we can control and not look for excuses outside of that.”
As Wasps prepare to take on Worcester and Exeter Chiefs in the first two rounds of the Gallagher Premiership, Young sounds as motivated as ever to bring silverware to the club. He said, “I’m so desperate to win something for the support that we get, for Derek and the Directors and some of the players, Joe Launchbury, Elliot Daly and Joe Simpson who’ve stuck with us through thick and thin. I’ve got a real burning hunger and desire to try and get our hands on something sooner rather than later.”
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