The Rugby Blog spoke to returning Wasp Riki Flutey about the new season, settling back in at Wasps and the O2 Rugby Reunion finale this Sunday.
“It’s great to be back in London”, Flutey began, reflecting on his short stint in France last season. “When we moved to Brive, we were coming back here all the time anyway because of my injury and the rehab I was doing.”
Flutey spent a large part of last season on the sidelines with a shoulder problem that required surgery after the Six Nations, so no doubt Brive were delighted with him being away on England duty for so long and then returning with an injury.
“We’re all settled now though after all the going back and forth last season, so we feel like we’re back in the comfort zone. I haven’t had too much stick from the guys really; I’ve always had heaps of support from the club for me returning.”
“I have a daughter of 3, a son of 20 months and another one on the way, so its been great to spend more time with the family. I think last season, the Lions season, I was away for about 6 months of the year, so you really cherish the time you can spend at home. They keep me pretty busy as well.”
We spoke about Wasps’ prospects for the season now that he would be slotting back into the midfield alongside Dom Waldouck and Dave Walder, and he was quick to point out that they have lots of new talent coming through.
“Players like Elliot Daly and Christian Wade have played in pre-season and there is so much confidence coming out of our young players – we have a huge amount of depth now, and some of our young players are stepping up into leadership roles as well.”
I didn’t really want to bring up Danny Cipriani, but since we got onto Wasps’ transfer activity, it seemed like an obvious question, but apparently the outgoing celebrity hasn’t had much contact since he left.
“I think some of the guys have heard from him. He’s just getting in shape, training and getting ready for the Super 14. He’ll learn a huge amount over there, in rugby and in terms of life skills, getting away from the pressures of the media and he’ll come back stronger.”
We talked about Wasps’ goals for the season, and there wasn’t much you wouldn’t expect – they are obviously aiming for silverware and looking to play some decent rugby.
“We were starting to score some really good tries at the end of last season, being a bit more patient with the ball, so we are going into the first game with a lot of confidence. We’ve had a couple of refs in to talk us through the law situation, and it sounds like it will be good – I’d much rather have the ball in hand than chase kicks all day”
And we’d much rather watch that, Riki, and it probably won’t do your England chances any harm?
“For all the guys in the Premiership, the goal is to go down and play in the World Cup, and that is my ultimate goal as well. I just have to work hard and make sure I’m in the mix for the Autumn, and then we’ll take it from there.”
And what about the O2 Rugby Reunion?
“The aim of the campaign is to make sure young players between about 15 and 25 stay involved in the game. I know mates of mine that were good players, but then lost interest and went out of the game. We want to remind people about playing for the passion and enjoyment of it, as well as the social life afterwards.”
The final O2 event takes place on Sunday in Twickenham, nicely timed before England’s Women take on New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup final at The Stoop. Check out the O2 Rugby Reunion Facebook page, and get yourself along if you can.