This weekend London Wasps host Worcester Warriors at Adams Park with both sides in search of their first win of 2013/14 Aviva Premiership season.
However, the game has a far more personal importance for young loosehead Matt Mullan, who joined Wasps from this weekend’s rivals over the summer after starting his professional career there eight years ago.
“It’s the only professional team I have ever played for so it’s a bit strange. I think if we had won a few of the first games then I might be thinking about it a bit more but the fact that we are going out there focusing purely on the performance and the result takes that away for me.”
“Leaving Worcester was tough but I think it was time for a new challenge. I felt it was the right time because if I didn’t go this season then I might never have had and I think it was needed for me to experience something a bit different. The young English talent we have in the group at Wasps was a big attraction and I thought it would be something really good to be part of for the future.”
“I haven’t seen any of their games in full yet but they are always a team I will keep an eye on. I grew up there and it’s my local Club so it will always be close to me. “
Despite some tough battles on the field, away from rugby the 26-year-old says that he and his family have adapted to life in London remarkably well.
“I am really enjoying it here. My family have settled in really well which is nice. I have a young child and another on the way in a matter of days so I am lucky that they have all settled in really well so I can just focus on playing and not have to worry about that side of it.”
Mullan’s summer switch has seen him link up with Director of Rugby Dai Young who, Mullan says, has been an inspirational figure since his move.
“Dai obviously has a lot of experience as a prop. If a coach has played in that position he naturally tends to maybe focus on that area in training anyway. I can ask him something quite technical and he will give me the answer straight away which is brilliant. I get on well with Dai, he’s a very good coach and is very approachable.”
Mullan’s arrival over the summer has seen him join up with a number of other young props who are all vying for a starting shirt with Jake Cooper-Woolley, Alec Hepburn, Simon McIntyre, Phil Swainston, Will Taylor and Taione Vea all under the age of 25. However, it is Cooper-Woolley, who has started the first three games of the season at tighthead, who Mullan singles out for praise.
“We do have a young pack here and a relatively young front row. On the other side Jake Cooper Woolley has come in and done really well for someone with his experience. He is a physical young player and produces some great results in the gym as well so he’s got a big future. He will build on his experience and he’s doing well.”
Despite a designated home game on the opening day of the season at Twickenham in the London Double Header, this weekend is the first game at Adams Park and as such provides a great chance for the side to kickstart the season with a win as well as set a marker in terms of their home record. Both of those remunerations are not lost on Mullan.
“It is a big game and it’s important for us to start well at home. It’s our first proper home game and we want to get off to a good start there. The boys here have enjoyed playing there and the team have had a good record for us.”
Having two settle for three losing bonus points from the first three fixtures is not what his side would have been targeting but, despite that, Mullan says that there are a number of positives to take from those three games going into this weekend.
“I think there are a good few things we can be pleased with up front. Dai has worked really hard with the pack and we have worked really hard for him. We got through a lot in preseason and we put a big focus on our set piece as a group. The group here wanted to change the perception about the pack here and it’s not going to change overnight but we are making really progress.”
“We have got to reduce our errors this weekend if we are going to win the game. We have spoken as a group about gifting points to the opposition and that will be the difference between us winning and losing and making teams work much harder to score.”
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