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Birkett set to make 250th appearance

London Wasps lock Richard Birkett is looking forward to a significant milestone this weekend as he is set to make his 250th appearance for the Club.

In doing so, Birkett will join a prestigious group of Wasps players to reach the milestone which include Lawrence Dallaglio, Alex King, Josh Lewsey, Simon Shaw and Joe Worsley, and having made his debut back in 1999, the second-row, who is expected to line out against Bordeaux Begles on Sunday, says he is hugely proud to have achieved the landmark.

“I definitely didn’t think I would last this long! It’s been bruising but a lot of fun and I am very proud of the fact that I am still playing and had such a lot of fun along the way. It has been a fantastic experience doing it all with Wasps and I am very lucky.”

Birkett’s first game was against London Irish at Loftus Road where he came off the bench in the then Allied Dunbar Premiership joining on the field the likes of Shaw, King, Paul Volley and Will Green.
In his 249 games to date he has been part of team who have won almost every accolade in the game including the Heineken Cup, Premiership and numerous other domestic trophies. But for him one game will always live long in the memory.

“Our game in Lansdowne Road against Munster in the Heineken Cup Semi-Final in 2004 without a doubt has been the one I will never forget. We won 32-37 and it was just incredible from start to finish. Everything about it was fantastic. The game itself was immense and the lead changed hands a few times, the atmosphere was also unforgettable. I had never experienced anything like it. There were thousands of home fans baying for our blood and then after the game they were all patting us on the back and saying fair play you guys were awesome. I have a lot of respect for fans like that who really appreciate rugby and they are not just blinkered.”

These days the game has massively changed from the day when Birkett first ran out for Wasps and the sight of players making 250 appearances for a Club and staying with one Club their whole lives he believes is fast diminishing.

“It is a sad thing but it’s inevitable. As the game becomes more financially viable players are going to start looking at their career and the fact that it’s a job and you have to look after your career and your family. Everyone would love to stay at the Club they started at because you get a real fondness for where you come from and I consider myself hugely lucky to have been able to do it. The last few years at Wasps have been tough but I haven’t stopped enjoying the game and the young guys we have here now really do keep your spirit ticking along.”

Birkett will be in action this weekend when London Wasps take on Bordeaux Begles in the final pool game of the Amlin Challenge Cup where Wasps need a win to qualify for the quarter finals.
The game, which kicks off at Adams Park at 15.00, will also be a milestone for prop Tim Payne who will make his 50th European appearance for the Club.