Premiership Preview: Wasps
Last Season: 6th
Top Tryscorer: Christian Wade (12)
Top Pointscorer: Andy Goode (240)
Last year marked the end of a reprise for the four-time Premiership champions, but also the possible start of a new era for the club. After a couple of difficult years, they finally broke back into the top six under the leadership of Dai Young.
An attacking side, they racked up over 650 points in the 2014/15 campaign and boasted the division’s top scorer in Andy Goode, while 12-try winger Christian Wade was amongst the division’s top tryscorers.
It was a year of success for the Ricoh Arena’s latest tenants, finishing in their highest league position since 2010, but a large turnover of players, including the retirement of Goode, could make things tough.
The Coach: Dai Young
The hulking Welshman enjoyed a varied playing career which took in spells in both Union and League. He played for Leeds, Salford and captained the Welsh Rugby League side in the 1995 World Cup, while rampaging through a fine career in Union.The former prop was a leader wherever he want and a switch to coaching was inevitable. After a stellar eight-year stint as Cardiff Blues chief, the 48-year-old took the Wasps reins in 2011 when he guided a depleted squad away from relegation before laying the foundations for what appears to be a bright future.
Key Man: James Haskell
Despite weighing in at well over 18 stone, Haskell is not a typical forward. The 30-year-old Flanker or Number 8, is widely viewed as one of the sport’s fittest forwards, taking pride in endurance over sheer strength. He remains a force in the London side’s pack but is able to lead his troops for the full 80, crucial in the modern game.After three years away from the country, Haskell returned to the club which launched his career in 2012 and hasn’t looked back since. Sharing the leadership workload with Matt Mullan could prove to be a wise move this year, offering increased freedom and relieving the pressure from the towering former Stade Francais man, who was the club’s sole captain last season.
Prediction: 6th, steady again
After finishing eighth in 2013, seventh and sixth-placed finishes have followed, but a top five place would be a remarkable achievement, especially given the loss of points machine Andy Goode. With the top five almost certainly secure, another top six place, and another year of Champions’ Cup rugby, will be viewed as a success. Odds for Title: 12/1.