'We know they are going to come after us... last time we got beaten up'
Assistant coach Ian Costello has Wasps on red alert ahead of their likely bruising rematch with East Midlands rivals Leicester, who physically beat them up in a feisty Gallagher Premiership encounter 15-and-a-half weeks ago that featured three red cards.
Leicester duo Jasper Wiese and Hanro Liebenberg were red-carded by referee Craig Maxwell-Keys, but the Tigers were unstoppable in their 27-8 win against a Wasps XV that lost Kieran Brookes to a red card after half-time.
Wasps managed just 26 per cent territory and 33 per cent possession in a Premiership derby where they also lost out 19-10 on the penalties conceded tally, and they were further criticised by Steve Borthwick for how vocal they allegedly were in the stands in calling for the Wiese red card. Now Wasps are meeting their nemesis four months later with a Heineken Champions Cup qualification place up for grabs.
Just three points separate the sixth-place Leicester from the ninth-place London Irish, with Newcastle in tenth two points further behind heading into the final round of fixtures that will determine the league’s top-eight finishers who will qualify for the top tier European tournament.
Lying in seventh with 48 points, Wasps are hosting Leicester who are just a point above them on 49 and whoever loses next Saturday will leave themselves vulnerable to potentially being overtaken on the table by the teams below – the 47 points Bath, who host Northampton, the 46 points Irish, who travel to Bristol and the 44 points Newcastle, who are at Harlequins.
"You’ll find that guys that come in this quickly sometimes pick up knocks and Charlie is pretty resilient in that way"
– Nine months after getting mown down by the red-carded Owen Farrell, 19-year-old Charlie Atkinson is earning kudos at Wasps https://t.co/8a3EMjXKjo
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) June 2, 2021
Wasps grabbed a last-gasp, clock-in-the-red win at London Irish last Saturday and they will now look to seal the qualification deal by putting one over Leicester in what will be defence coach Costello’s final match for the club before he heads back to Ireland to become academy manager at Munster.
“With Leicester, you know what is coming, they are very, very physical, excellent set-piece, really dominant ball carriers, very similar to London Irish and the way they play it (last weekend). We have had a little bit of a trial run and hopefully, it will be Wasps Part II.
“For us, it will all be about being physical, it’s all about meeting them on the gain line. We know it will be one of the most physical games we have played all season. We know they are going to come after us and we are preparing emotionally and mentally and physically for that.
“And we just need to be simmering under the surface, ready to go for Saturday and then hopefully there is the added benefit of having your own home support. We let ourselves down badly the last time we played, we got beaten up. This is no hiding from that and we know that is how it is going to start and probably end on Saturday, to be honest.”
'Half my mates who have already retired say, ‘Don’t retire. Do as much as you can because it’s hard on the other side’
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) April 25, 2021
Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.Sign Up Now