Last October’s beaten Gallagher Premiership finalists Wasps have addressed recent speculation about the futures at the club of Martin Gleeson, Matt Everard and Ian Costello, three of the assistants that helped boss Lee Blackett make a great success of his first season in charge.
Blackett stepped up from his assistant role in February 2020 following the departure of Dai Young and he used the lockdown to steel the squad for the huge upswing in fortunes that brought them all the way to a Twickenham title decider versus Exeter.
It has since proven difficult for Wasps to maintain that momentum in recent months and they currently lie 14 points off the fourth and final playoff spot in the league with just seven matches remaining. Amid that struggle for results, which hasn’t been helped by multiple injuries and Test call-ups, Wasps have also had to deal with speculation surrounding three of Blackett’s assistants.
Rugby league recruit Gleeson was linked with taking up an assistant backs and attack role with Eddie Jones’ England, transition, skills and breakdown coach Everard with an unspecified move elsewhere, and defence coach Costello with a return to Munster to run the academy at the Irish club where he previously spent two years working as assistant to the late Anthony Foley before taking over at Nottingham.
Wasps boss Blackett has now given his reaction to all three situations, insisting there had been no approach from the RFU concerning Gleeson and that the Everard story was pure speculation. However, he admitted there was substance to the story that Costello could leave and a decision is expected this week.
"The environment couldn’t be better set-up to avoid spread. Let’s hope it works out. Please God, we’ll get lucky"
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) October 18, 2020
England’s fifth-place finish in the recent Guinness Six Nations ignited criticism of their attack and it was suggested last Sunday that Gleeson, who came to Wasps in 2019 from rugby league, was potentially being lined by Jones to replace Simon Amor, who came in post-World Cup from England 7s.
“Look, I am aware of those,” said Blackett in relation to the speculation surrounding his assistants. “In terms of Martin with England, England haven’t approached us so that would be pure speculation at this moment in time. He is under contract and you would think if England want him they would have approached us. We have had no approach from the RFU in terms of Martin.
“In terms of Matt, he is under a long contract. We have done a lot with Matt and I can quite easily say I would be gobsmacked if he is going anywhere. We have got long-term plans for him. It’s pure speculation on that one. He played for the club, left two years before I joined. He has come back as a coach having played for Nottingham, has worked in the academy for a couple of years and I have got a really good relationship with Matt.
“The players really like him. He has got that great relationship with the players and he gets the best out of them in terms of those skills, in terms of those roles he has been doing, our pick-and-go game, a lot of our tight game, some of our plays off nine.
“He has done a pretty good job in terms of what he has done there and the boys really like him – we know his future and where he will go and the role he will take in the future with the club. You would like to think he is fully on this journey with us. He laughed it off when I mentioned the rumour to him.”
As regards Munster target Costello, Blackett added: “I’ll know a lot more in the next 48 hours. With Ian, we know his family situation and he has been very open with the club. Realistically, he is going to go back sometime within the next year-and-a-half so I’ll know a lot more when that is, probably in the next 48 hours.”
With 190 penalties conceded in this season's Premiership, the worst count in the league, pressure is mounting at Wasps after seven losses in their last nine games #WASvASM #HeinekenChampionsCuphttps://t.co/7yD0sTWzg3
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) April 3, 2021
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