Two-try Paolo Odogwu was one of the main reasons why high-flying Wasps eventually edged Bath in a Gallagher Premiership thriller on Friday night which ended 52-44 after eleven tries in total were scored by teams committed to providing attacking entertainment.
Odogwu clocked up 142 metres on his seven carries, making four clean breaks and beating five defenders in a match where he scored tries on 48 and 54 minutes.
It was a dashing performance encapsulated in a video tweeted by live TV match broadcaster BT Sport which showed Odogwu jinking and weaving and looking hungry for action.
But here’s the rub: Odogwu didn’t figure in Wasps plans at the start of the season and it took injuries in the midfield to open up selection for him. He has now taken the good form he showed in four successive starts at No13 back to his more recognised slot on the wing in recent weeks.
Last week in the lead-up to the comprehensive Wasps win over defending champions Exeter, boss Lee Blackett said: “One thing I have always said about Paolo is with the ball he is difficult to tackle but one of the things me and him have spoken about is how we can get his involvements higher as a winger.
Paolo Odogwu is a joy to watch for @WaspsRugby ?
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) January 9, 2021
“At 13 we have managed to get him more involved so we have seen him more. That has probably always been Paolo’s biggest weakness, his number of involvements with the ball because that is one of his biggest strengths. He has managed to get that as a 13 but yeah, it’s different defensively.
“I have been pretty pleased with him in terms of that. He is pretty good over the ball and to go there in back-to-back performances, I have been pretty satisfied with what he has brought. He has given us that presence we need in that 13 jersey.”
That presence has now extended to greater involvement in games while wearing the No14 shirt. Odogwu made 88 metres off six carries versus Exeter, making three clean breaks and beating three defenders, and the 23-year-old improved on those figures versus Bath.
It left Blackett impressed once again, the Wasps coach stating post-game at The Rec: “Paolo’s big strength has always been his X-factor on the ball and what he brings… we know if we can get high involvements from him that he will have a big influence on the game.”
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) January 2, 2021
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