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'You don't get many opportunities to see two greyhounds going at it'

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Lee Blackett has outlined his satisfaction that one-time England prospect Ali Crossdale has dusted himself down following an initially tricky time at Wasps to look like he is primed to star in his second season at the Gallagher Premiership club.

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It was the summer of 2021 when the 24-year-old arrived in Coventry amid high hopes that his switch from Saracens would quickly see him fulfil the potential that Eddie Jones had taken a look at in England training.

The praise was effusive for the full-back following his first few months in situ, Blackett telling RugbyPass last January: “He has been good, he looks dangerous. It is exactly what we thought. We knew we had signed someone talented.”

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However, despite this promising start, Crossdale went on to spend months out of the team, going from January through to May without making a Premiership appearance. “It’s just waiting at the moment for his opportunities,” explained the Wasps coach four months ago, putting the absence down to selection.

I can assure you, he is putting his hand up every week. He is really close to selection, he is training really well so I know his opportunity will be around the corner.”

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That corner resulted in end-of-season starts versus Sale and Leicester and having impressed as a sixth-minute replacement last Sunday for the injured Matteo Minozzi at Gloucester and encouragingly contesting a lengthy foot race with the breaking Louis Rees-Zammit, Crossdale has been chosen at No15 for Saturday’s first Wasps home game of the season against Bristol.

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“With Ali, we always know there are big moments out there,” said Blackett. “What I have seen with him is he is a guy that works extremely hard. I have seen little bits of leadership in him as well but you just see more and more big moments. Like, there is not one moment in a session where I am going, ‘Oh, did you see Ali there, how good did he look?’

“I’m seeing four or five (big moments) and I’ll tell you what would have been interesting was if Ali had five or ten more metres at the weekend with his chase with Rees-Zammit. You don’t get many opportunities to see two greyhounds going at it like that.”

Asked what Crossdale is like when the selection decisions at Wasps don’t go his way, Blackett added: “We spoke (before the Gloucester game). I promised him there was an opportunity around the corner. We probably didn’t expect it after ten minutes in the game but it was always planned for him to be involved.

“He was one of our standouts in pre-season and so he was always going to get his opportunity. He had been patient for a long time so that extra game (on the bench) didn’t make too big a difference. He understood the reasons and was excited to play off the bench. He will be excited to start this week.”

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