Wasps Director of Rugby Dai Young expects star signing Lima Sopoaga’s fortunes at the club to turn once his Wasps teammates return to full fitness.
Sopoaga has struggled to make a consistent impact since joining the Premiership club in September last year, and was shown a yellow card over the weekend during his side’s Champions Cup pool match against Bath. Sopoaga delivered a no-arms tackle Jackson Willison to earn the sanction as the winless Wasps suffered their fourth pool loss and Bath earned their first pool victory 18-16.
“We always knew Lima would take a bit of time to settle in and you have to feel a bit sorry for him because he’s been trying to settle with half the team he expected to be around him being unavailable,” Young said in an interview with The Rugby Paper before the Bath fixture.
Springboks fullback Willie le Roux – last season’s Premiership leader for try assists – has been in and out of the side, England halfback Dan Robson and backline linchpin Jimmy Gopperth have been out with major injuries and winger Christian Wade – Premiership rugby’s third highest try scorer ever – quit rugby to pursue a career in the NFL halfway through the season.
“Last season our attacking prowess was pretty special with Dan Robson, Jimmy Gopperth, Willie Le Roux and Wadey around Danny Cipriani, but we’ve had pretty much none of them playing so it’s been hard to replicate that,” Young said.
England flyhalf Cipriani starred for the club last season before jumping ship to Gloucester this season, where he has guided the side to fourth on the Premiership table.
“That’s put more pressure on Lima but we know he’s a quality player and we also know that, like most players from the southern hemisphere, you’re probably not going to get the best out of them in their first season in England,” Young added.
“He’s shown glimpses and with some of those more experienced, recognised players around him, he’s going to grow. They’ll take the pressure off and hopefully he’ll go from strength-to-strength, which we’re confident he will.”
Fans have been divided in regards to Sopoaga’s impact, with plenty sharing Young’s belief that he will get more comfortable with more rugby under his belt and just as many referring to the former Highlander as a ‘dud’.
I can’t wait for Lima to prove every single one of you lot wrong. Today aside (I haven’t seen today’s game) he’s having a good start to his Wasps career. If you can’t see that most of the faults in attack don’t come from him then you don’t understand the game.
— Alex Chinery (@iamalexchinery) January 12, 2019
That was awful covering from Sopoaga, had no intention of trying to make a tackle there! Such a dud signing and waste of a huge chunk of salary cap space #BATvWAS
— Ricky Jones (@rickyjoneshere) January 12, 2019
Loving how the BT sport pundits have constantly been singing Sopoaga's praises, but every wasps game he's played he's been dogshit most of the time. Handling errors, kicking errors, lazy passes, the list goes on
— ANDY! (@mrkearsey) December 1, 2018
The 27-year-old is in the first year of his three-year deal reportedly paying over NZ$1 million per season.
Before joining Wasps Sopoaga played Super Rugby for the Highlanders from 2011 to 2018, notching 88 appearances. He made his test debut in 2015 and made 17 appearances for the All Blacks before his departure.
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