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Wasps deliver their verdict on makeshift midfielder Josh Bassett

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by PA)

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Wasps’ preparations turned into turmoil last weekend when they encountered some positive Covid tests shortly before Sunday’s Heineken Champions Cup clash versus Munster. It resulted in numerous players having to suddenly change position in order for the match to go ahead and Wasps boss Lee Blackett has given kudos to the efforts of those involved, including Josh Bassett.

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The 29-year-old has been with the club since 2013 but the winger had only ever played once in the midfield before he was thrust into that position at the eleventh-hour versus Munster. Renowned try-scorer Bassett had made 125 Gallagher Premiership and Champions Cup starts in eight years but the only time he ran out in the No13 Wasps shirt was last month’s league defeat to Gloucester. 

Now he has done so a second time and his name came up for praise when Blackett reflected on the few positives from the 35-14 loss to Munster that now has them staring down the barrel heading to Toulouse this Sunday in an effort to try and keep alive their European ambitions.

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“Jimmy (Gopperth) moved into another pivotal position in terms of ten, he did a good job stepping in there as he has run most of the week at twelve and other guys had to move,” explained Wasps boss Blackett about the hurried reshuffle that took place after the test results came in.

“Josh Bassett did a fairly good job moving into 13 considering he has only ever played there once for us and he did most of the week on the wing as well. (Michael) Le Bourgeois moved back to his strong position of twelve but there was a fair amount of movement. There were a couple of good individual performances at the weekend, guys that stood up getting an opportunity.”

Another player thrust into an emergency role was Brad Shields, the ex-England back-rower who suddenly found himself lining out as a makeshift second row. “It was tough for Brad,” continued Blackett. “He came to the game having prepared all week at six. We had three second rows in the squad, we did our last main session of the week and then we found out we have got Covid and before you know it we lost both our starting second rows. 

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“Timmy (Cardall) on the bench had to come in to start and he calls the lineouts. Brad, who has never called the lineout, now had to start thinking about calling a lineout as well in case Tim goes off, but that is Brad, he is as professional as they come. 

“He is the first out with the notepad writing notes and if you ask him anything in terms of the game, lineouts, he is someone who doesn’t get his role wrong. He is the ultimate professional. He just got on with it and I thought he did really well for that period. Unfortunately, he got the red (card on 26 minutes) and it was a short afternoon.”   

   

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