Hughes putting friendships on hold ahead of London Welsh clash

With Taione Vea as a housemate, Nathan Hughes says that he has an extra incentive this Sunday, when Wasps face London Welsh.

Nathan Hughes has continued his good form from last season into the early part of this year’s campaign, with his characteristically physical game winning him many a fan among the Wasps faithful.

Given a week off for round one of the LV=Cup, Hughes returned to action as a replacement in last weekend’s convincing win over London Irish. His impact, along with the rest of what was an impressive bench, helped Wasps record a 43-22 win.

This Sunday, the men in black and gold refocus on the Aviva Premiership, where they will line up against London Welsh and, with former Wasp and Hughes’ housemate Taione Vea in their ranks, the back rower says that he has bragging rights, as well as league position, at stake.

“Tai and I live together so it will be good to go head-to-head with him on the field. Off the field we’re good mates but out there you forget about that! We’ve been chatting this game up for a while. I’ve told him not to run down my channel and he’s saying the same back to me. There’s a bit of chat but that’s how rugby is. Before and after the game we’ll be the best of mates but that will be on hold for 80 minutes!”

Aside from the personal rivalry, this Sunday’s fixture provides Dai Young’s men with a perfect opportunity to push their case at the top end of the league and that fact is not lost on Hughes.

“This Sunday will be a good challenge for us. We’ve lost a few games recently and this weekend’s game is a great opportunity for us to back up that win in the LV=Cup and get back to a winning mentality. After the first block of Premiership games we’re sitting in fifth place, and that’s where we wanted to be. This next block of games we want to bag a few more wins and start looking up the table.”

“It’s another opportunity for some of the guys who have been kept out of the side in the early games. With some of the boys away with their countries on international duty, it hands an opportunity to the other boys and gives us a chance to explore the depth in our squad. We’re confident that we have that in this group and we’re looking forward to getting out there this weekend.”

Hughes returned to action last Sunday among a host of regular first-team starters who combined to make up an impressive substitute’s bench. He says that the week off was much-needed and now he feels re-energised and focused on the next block of games.

“It was really good to have that rest. We had a lot of rugby at the start of the season and our bodies were pretty tired. Getting that rest was great and coming off the bench last weekend, playing 40 minutes, felt really good; it was a good blow out.”

“We had a pretty good bench last weekend! When you can bring the likes of Ashley Johnson, John Yapp, Jake Cooper-Woolley and James Gaskell into the pack as the other team are getting tired you know you’re going to be in a good place. Then add the pace of Joe Simpson, Elliot Daly and Sailosi Tagicakibau when the other side are stretched and it's always going one way. The subs bench clearly had an impact on the game and it was good to get that win.”

The impact of the substitutes was clear to see, with the game opening up in the last quarter and Hughes says that he enjoyed the forty minutes he got from the bench.

“We started running direct in the last twenty minutes of the game and when you do that, combined with being clinical, you give yourself a good chance of winning the game. They found it difficult to deal with the pace that we were playing at and when we had the ball we moved it well.”

“When you carry and you look up to see the backline scoring in the wide channels you feel happy that you’ve done your job for the team. That encourages you to keep working and I did enjoy it out there. I was pretty happy with my performance.”

“I’ve still got a lot to learn and I’m very aware of that. I’ve felt like I’ve been a bit flat in a few games and for me it is about playing at the same level every single week. I’ve had that week’s rest now and I feel re-energised and ready to go again. I’m looking forward to this next block of games and it starts this weekend with London Welsh.”

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