London Wasps and England winger Christian Wade has endured a torrid season. After a breakout campaign in 2012/2013, this year he has been blighted by a foot injury that required surgery, and hasn’t played since November.
Initially, it was thought that he wouldn’t return until next season, but now the Wasps flyer says he is hopeful of making an earlier comeback and is targeting the England tour to New Zealand in June.
“I would love to go to New Zealand,” said Wade. “It’s a massive tour and would give me an opportunity to stake my claim. I was on a bit of a high before I got injured so it could be quite a good opportunity.”
The injury was doubly frustrating for Wade, as it came at a time when England’s wing play had stagnated and he was on the brink of being given his first chance to earn an extended run in the national team. Since being injured, however, Marland Yarde, Jonny May and Jack Nowell have all become embedded to varying degrees in the set-up and while none have really set the world alight, it is a feature of Stuart Lancaster’s England that once you have your place, it is difficult to be ousted.
The coaches, however, clearly see 22-year old Wade in their long-term plans and have been in touch with him throughout his injury struggles.
“I’ve spoken to Stuart (Lancaster) about the New Zealand tour and the games after that,” said the Wasps player. “He’s said that he will take quite a large squad and if I’m ready to play, then he will want me to come. I’m still in the EPS squad on the injury list so I was going into camp throughout the Six Nations to catch up with the coaches.”
Returning from such a serious injury is never easy, but there are few places worse than New Zealand to find yourself undercooked. Wade appreciates that there is a lot of hard work to be done if he is to make it back in time for what is probably the toughest international tour around, but also insists that if he is ready to play and England want him, being thrown in at the deep end will not matter.
“If I’m ready I’m ready. Any England game you could say is the deep end. They have some of the best wingers in the world and that brings out the best of you.”
Wade’s is an injury that can reoccur, so he will not be rushed back, but with wanting to be ready for the New Zealand tour in the back of his mind, Wasps’ busy run-in to the end of the season could be looked at as a huge positive – shop windows, and all that.
“If we get through to the Amlin final or the seventh-placed play-off then it could give me the opportunity to play some club rugby before the end of the season,” he says.
Wasps’ Amlin semi-final with Bath is undoubtedly a big occasion for a club that has fallen far from the glory days of a few years ago, and while the pursuit of their first trophy since 2008 is certainly important, securing seventh place in the Premiership and the new European play-off spot that comes with it must now be the club’s primary objective.
It begins this weekend against Gloucester, just two points behind them, in ‘The Stinger’ at Twickenham.
By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43
London Wasps take on Gloucester Rugby in The Stinger on Saturday 19th April at 3:15pm, exclusively live on BT Sport. Ticke?ts are available at ticketmaster.co.uk/wasps