Guinness Premiership Preview: a new era at London Wasps

The start of the Guinness Premiership is now just days away, and as we continue our series of profiles of all twelve teams, Jon Hobbs takes a look at Wasps’ prospects.

Tony Hanks

New man in charge: Tony Hanks

Players in:

Ben Jacobs (Saracens)
Steve Kefu (Castres)
Jason Hobson (Bristol)
Lee Smith (Leeds Rhinos)
Tom Varndell (Leicester Tigers)
Dan Ward-Smith (Bristol)
Chris Whitehead (Coventry)
Eoghan Hickey (London Irish)
David Lemi (Bristol)
Warren Fury (London Irish)

Players out:

Henry Barratt (London Welsh)
Chris Bishay (London Welsh)
Matt Corker (London Welsh)
Riki Flutey (Brive)
James Haskell (Stade Francais)
Rob Hoadley (London Welsh)
Michael Holford (London Welsh)
Tom Palmer (Stade Francais)
Tom Voyce (Gloucester)
Jeremy Staunton (Leicester Tigers)
Eoin Reddan (Leinster)
Damien Varley (Munster)
Pat Barnard (Brive)
Josh Lewsey (Retired)
Raphael Ibanez (Retired)

There has been plenty of rugby news going on in West London over the summer, but while their neighbours Harlequins have been stealing the headlines, London Wasps have been quietly going about their pre-season with a new coach and plenty of new faces.

A lot of last season’s play was based around the likes of Flutey, Haskell, Palmer, Reddan, Lewsey and Ibanez and, although it seems they have been adequately replaced, Wasps’ potential for success this season will depend on how quickly the new boys can bed in. It is quite feasible to expect Jason Hobson, Dan Ward-Smith, Steve Kefu and Tom Varndell to be part of Wasps’ first choice starting XV and equally feasible that those players can assist the club in getting back to the heady heights from which they fell last season.

Their integration will be down to Wasps’ new head coach, Tony Hanks, who has spent plenty of time around the squad in different guises over the past few years. His has a wise and measured approach and he will be keen to remind his squad of the pillars around which their recent success has been built: teamwork and defence.

Of equal importance to the new signings will be the rehabilitation of Wasps’ first choice fly-half, Danny Cipriani. Being so far down the England pecking order will give him the time to re-focus on his strengths and work harder on his weaknesses outside the glare of international rugby and will hopefully see a return to top form.

There are other squads in the premiership with the same quality of players who have been together for longer and know what it takes to be successful, which is where I believe Wasps will suffer by comparison. They could well pull off some shock results but overall I cannot see them having the consistency to make the play-offs.

Prediction: 6th

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