Wasps Bok warns of final hurdles

Thu, 14 Feb 2013 14:02
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Springbok loose forward Ashley Johnson believes that the toughest games are yet to come for London Wasps.

Springbok loose forward Ashley Johnson believes that the toughest games are to come for London Wasps, who sit fourth in the Premiership table.

Johnson has been a key figure in a headline-grabbing back row since his arrival from the Free State Cheetahs and he believes the remaining fixtures for Wasps, which include home clashes against Gloucester, Northampton, Saracens, Leinster and Exeter, will prove a sizeable challenge.

Last weekend’s nail-biting victory over the reigning league champions Harlequins at The Stoop pushed Wasps back into the top four.

Combined with a European Cup quarterfinal against Leinster in a couple of weeks, the prospects going into the final stages of the season are hugely positive for the men in black and gold.

However, it is clear that Johnson and the rest of the squad are not planning on resting on their laurels.

“We expect more of ourselves now. We have been doing well but every week you have to improve. We know that we are not by any means a complete package, there is loads of stuff that we have to work on, which is a good thing if you are still winning but can see where you need to get better.

“The way we play our rugby is exciting. We give guys opportunities to express themselves and, alongside those experienced heads, we have some really talented individuals here who can do some remarkable things.”

Johnson was part of a wave of new players who joined the club ahead of the current season, who supplemented a host of young talent with a lot of experience and know-how.

Is that combination of the two ends of the spectrum the reason for the drastically different success of this season compared to the last?

“We don’t have a very big squad, so the fact that we have managed to keep the majority of guys fit so far this year has obviously been a massive help. From what I have been told about last season there were a large number of injuries, and when you have that in a small squad it is obviously going to have a massively negative impact.

“There is a good atmosphere here, everyone wants to do well both personally and as a team. That is obviously true of the young guys who are inevitably going to be enthusiastic, but it is true even of the older guys like Stephen Jones who spends a lot of time making sure that he is ready for the weekend and helping out the young guys as well.

“There are a lot of young guys here with a lot of enthusiasm and there are a lot of guys here with great senses of humour so coming into the club it wasn’t immediately obvious that they had just been through such a tough relegation battle.

“However, as I settled in, it was clear from the determination the guys had in everything they did that there was something driving them. I think that what they went through last season gave those guys a taste of something they didn’t want to be involved with again. There was a clear desire to do well and there was an excitement about the place at the start of the season.”

Fans of London Wasps who have watched the team as they have gone from strength to strength since the start of the year, will have also seen Johnson grow into his role in the team and he says that, coming into the Premiership having played all of his rugby previously in the Super Rugby competition, there was a lot of work for him to do to adapt to the physicality and style of play.

“There is a huge difference between the two. If you say there isn’t a big difference and it is only rugby wherever it is played then you are simply lying to yourself! For me I had to just concentrate on settling into the club, getting to know the structures and then I could adapt to the different pace and physicality.

“To start with I was on the bench, which wasn’t a bad thing for me because it allowed me to get to know the structures. Obviously I have personal goals, which are basically to keep improving every week and that was no less critical than when I first arrived at Wasps. I had to grow into my role and I feel a lot more comfortable now as part of the team.”

This weekend Wasps face Gloucester at Adams Park at Johnson says that, in a period of tough fixtures, the side have to take each game as it comes, however clichéd that may be.

“We are up against a lot of tough teams in the next few weeks. Gloucester, Northampton, Saracens, Leinster and Exeter will all be coming to Adams Park targeting us and they are all going to be tough battles, not to even mention the away trips we have.

“Every game from here on in needs to have all of our focus in the lead up so we cannot afford to get ahead of ourselves. Gloucester this weekend is the first of those and the boys have been focussed on nothing else in the build-up this week.”

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Fri, 28 April 2017
Highlanders v Stormers 07h35 Dunedin
Cardiff Blues v Zebre 18h05 Cardiff
Edinburgh v Dragons 18h35 Myreside
Leinster v Glasgow Warriors 18h35 RDS Arena
Newcastle Falcons v Worcester Warriors 19h00 Kingston Park
Sat, 29 April 2017
Chiefs v Sunwolves 07h35 Hamilton
Reds v Waratahs 09h45 Suncorp Stadium
Force v Lions 11h55 Perth
Ospreys v Ulster 14h00 Liberty Stadium
Bath v Gloucester 14h00 Recreation Ground
Exeter Chiefs v Northampton Saints 14h00 Sandy Park
Saracens v Bristol 14h00 Allianz Park
Harlequins v Wasps 14h00 Twickenham Stoop
Leicester Tigers v Sale Sharks 14h00 Welford Road
Cheetahs v Crusaders 15h15 Bloemfontein
Treviso v Munster 17h05 Stadio Monigo
Kings v Rebels 17h30 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Connacht v Scarlets 18h35 Sportsground
Jaguares v Sharks 19h40 Buenos Aires
Sun, 30 April 2017
Brumbies v Blues 06h05 Canberra
RESULT SCORE
Sun, 23 April 2017
Clermont Auvergne v Leinster 27 | 22
Sat, 22 April 2017
Sharks v Rebels 9 | 9
Bulls v Cheetahs 20 | 14
Munster v Saracens 10 | 26
Force v Chiefs 7 | 16
Crusaders v Stormers 57 | 24
Highlanders v Sunwolves 40 | 15
Fri, 21 April 2017
Lions v Jaguares 24 | 21
Waratahs v Kings 24 | 26
Hurricanes v Brumbies 56 | 21
Mon, 17 April 2017
UP-Tuks v Maties 28 | 21
Sun, 16 April 2017
Northampton Saints v Saracens 25 | 27
Bristol v Wasps 21 | 36
Sat, 15 April 2017
Connacht v Leinster 24 | 37
Treviso v Edinburgh 21 | 6
PREMIERSHIP
MORE LOGS
Team P W D L Pts
Wasps 20 16 1 3 79
Exeter Chiefs 20 13 3 4 74
Saracens 20 15 1 4 72
Leicester Tigers 20 12 0 8 57
Bath 20 11 0 9 53
Northampton Saints 20 9 0 11 48
Harlequins 20 10 0 10 47
Gloucester 20 7 2 11 46
Newcastle Falcons 20 8 0 12 40
Sale Sharks 20 6 1 13 36
Worcester Warriors 20 5 2 13 31
Bristol 20 3 0 17 19