Wasps Bok looking over his shoulder
Wasps Bok looking over his shoulderSHARE
Springbok loose forward Ashley Johnson knows that he can't be complacent or his place in the London Wasps starting line-up will be challenged.
The back row has arguably been one of the most competitive players in the team since the start of the season and has had an enormous impact since his arrival at the Premiership club just over a year ago.
However, with a host of new faces stepping up, Johnson admits he will have to play consistently well to keep his place in the run-on side.
"With the back row that we have here you certainly need to perform every week! I would lie if I didn't admit that I am looking over my shoulder,” he said.
“The guys we have in the back row are of an excellent calibre, even people like Rory Pitman, who is not quite fit yet. For me personally, I just need to play well every week and if I get picked I need to do a job and put in a good performance otherwise I won't be getting picked the next week!”
The men in black and gold have had a mixed bag of results so far this season, with wins at home against Leicester Tigers and against Gloucester on the road in the Premiership, particular highlights.
Last weekend an uncharacteristically lacklustre performance saw Bath victorious at Adams Park, ending Wasps' winning league run at home in the process. Johnson admits that they were extremely disappointed but are ready to bounce back and draw a line under it.
"Certainly the boys are a bit down and disappointed with their performances at the weekend. But we need to put that behind us as fast as possible and start focusing on the next game.
“We will really learn from last weekend and now is time to concentrate on London Irish where we know we need to get some points this weekend.”
Wasps have produced some nail-biting and extremely exciting rugby this season and have managed to take at least one point out of every league match, with Bath being the exception.
Johnson believes that the game last weekend has to be put down as a bad day at the office and after a brutal analysis session, the players are ready to step up and move on.
"Sometimes you get games where everyone looks flat, nothing goes to plan and it's almost like the harder you try the worse it gets. I think maybe that was the case; everyone wanted to do well although it didn't look like it from the sideline, and everyone tries to do something on their own but it just doesn't pull off.
“Hopefully we have learned from that, so that now when we get into those pressure situations we just stick to our instructions and do what we do well and get out of that phase where the pressure is full on so that we can put the pressure back on the opposition.
"It is always easier to have an analysis session after a win but I think the coaching staff are always honest and fair. We are all learning so we always want to know the truth and it might not be nice to hear but you have to hear it.”
Going into the tail-end of 2013, the Premiership is very tight especially in the middle of the table and a couple of bad results can significantly affect positioning for the rest of the season.
Johnson says that a good week of training will be the crucial foundation to turning out in Reading and putting on a much-improved performance.
"The Premiership as a whole is a tough league so you can't beat yourself down too long. You have to pick yourself up as it is a short turnaround now. Suddenly you blink and you have lost two in a row so it is tough.
“We know we weren't good last weekend, we are honest with ourselves so this week is all about training well and going through the things that we did wrong and hopefully we will put in a good performance this weekend. We know every team is desperate for some points but we know we need to win to stay up there with the rest of the teams in the league.”
With new ownership and new sponsors this season, there have been some major positive changes at the club compared to the same time last season and Johnson says that this, combined with new additions to the playing squad, have created a great environment at Twyford Avenue.
"Certainly all the changes have been for the good, they have all been very positive. We can feel around the club that there is a buzz, not just from the players' point of view but from the supporting staff, the changes going on in the office and the information and input we are receiving.
“Clearly everyone has ambitions for the club and are doing what they can to drive the club forward so I think now it is up to the players to stand up and take accountability and hopefully get some good wins.
“We have had a lot of new players join the club this season and they have all been great assets. We have all gelled well together from the onset but really we have only been playing for a couple of months so hopefully the more we play together, the more comfortable we will become.”