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'We have made some signings and expect to announce them soon'

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)

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Wasps have hinted they already have “some signings” in the bag following the February 2 confirmation that seasoned duo Jimmy Gopperth and Malakai Fekitoa will be respectively leaving for Leicester and Munster at the end of the current season. The southern hemisphere duo have been bulwarks of the Gallagher Premiership club’s backline in recent seasons.

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However, the departures of the 38-year-old Gopperth and 29-year-old Fekitoa, who initially carved out their careers on the Super Rugby scene, will leave a massive void on the Wasps roster that Lee Blackett has suggested will soon be filled despite the recent emergence at the club of promising youngsters, Olly Hartley and Will Simonds.

“We are fully aware of where we have got to go,” said Blackett when asked by RugbyPass if there were announcements in the pipeline at Wasps, a club that still carries clout in the marketplace judging by their winter recruitment for next season of Saracens’ Vincent Koch, the World Cup-winning Springboks prop.   

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“We have made some signings and we expect to announce them pretty soon and we have still probably got a couple left to make. We are always wary, you look at someone like Malo and Jimmy as well, whenever you lose someone like that it tells you where you have got to go in the market, you have got to go experience because to lose experience you have got to gain it. 

“You can’t as much as I think Olly Hartley is a great youngster coming through, Will Simonds another, they are not going to replace Jimmy and Malo in terms of a leadership role so we will look at some leadership and bring some leaders in as well.”

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Only in recent weeks have things started to come together for Wasps, Blackett’s team winning four games in a row in the Premiership following a frustrating start that was hugely affected by the considerable injury list where they had upwards of 20 players unavailable on any given weekend. That injury toll has now factored into the club’s approach to recruitment.    

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“You have always got to look at everything so whenever we are looking at a player we are checking firstly his ability and then you look at his character and his injury history and you make sure because when you have got your best players out every team in this Premiership is very similar and it’s about trying to keep your best players as fit as possible and working on everyone else. 

“Look, it’s definitely something we look at and we also look in positions. If you are looking at a certain position you are saying right he is a slight doubt injury, he has picked up a few, what’s the other people like in that position so if he is injured what is the other one like and you try not to have two or three guys in the same position that both have got not the greatest injury history.”

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