Simpson refreshed ahead of crucial block of four

After a week off, Joe Simpson says he is refreshed and focused on the task in hand ahead of four crucial Aviva Premiership games.

Having recently impressed for his country during England Saxons’ win over the Irish Wolfhounds in Cork last month, Joe Simpson was given a week’s rest after 1275 minutes in black and gold so far this season and says that he is raring to go again as Wasps move into a block of four crucial Aviva Premiership fixtures.

“It’s always an honour to wear the red rose and it was really pleasing that we managed to get the win against a very strong Ireland team in a hostile environment,” he said. “It was an enjoyable week meeting up with some old and new faces in the squad and getting an insight into how other players and clubs approach games. It’s sometimes nice to change things up, which helps to keep you fresh and on your toes. I really enjoyed it and would love to be part of the England set up again in the future; that will always remain my ambition.

“I really enjoyed a rare week off.  I headed off for a few days in the sun, but to be honest I spent most of my time in the shade, as my body doesn’t react very well to the sun!  A short break from rugby can really help you to switch off and keep fresh mentally as well as physically. Sometimes you don’t feel you need it, other times you are really in need of a rest, to let the body recover when you’ve played so many minutes of rugby. The season is attritional, so I was very grateful to get a break, but equally I was very excited to get back into training with the boys and am feeling fresh and ready to go again.”

“We know we need to get back on track. We’ve had a couple of defeats in the LV=Cup, but before that we had a good run in the Aviva Premiership and got through to the European quarter finals, so we just need to re-capture that sort of form and build momentum.

“There’s a lot of history between Wasps and Harlequins. We’ve already played them three times this season, so we know what they’re about and we know after our win against them in Europe last month that they will throw everything at us.

“We are two teams who love to throw the ball around and play some rugby, so supporters can expect an entertaining game. We have absolutely loved playing at the Ricoh so far. It never fails to entertain and we want to make the Ricoh a real fortress. It’s going to be a fantastic match against quality opposition and, as we currently sit fourth in the league, it’s a chance to really cement ourselves in the top half of the table.

“The score-line flattered us a little last time when we won at the Stoop, 3-23 as Harlequins had something like 80% of the territory in the first half. They were on our line and we were really dogging it out in the trenches. It was bodies on the line stuff and there were a few bruised and battered bodies at the end of that 80 minutes!

“It’s always a physical, feisty encounter against Quins. It’s going to be a tough match and we will need to man up in defence and really trust ourselves to go through the phases in attack, as we have been doing.

“I’m sure our supporters will play a huge part again. The difference in the noise and atmosphere since moving to the Ricoh has been incredible. The support from old fans and new fans has been unbelievable and the stadium being enclosed in the arena style creates such an exciting atmosphere. It’s something special, when you run through the tunnel onto the pitch in front of all those waving flags and cheering fans. It sends a shiver down your spine and I feel really privileged to be a part of it. I’m savouring every match – you never know how long you have playing - I absolutely love our new stadium and I look forward to experiencing many more years playing here with Wasps.”

Tickets for Wasps v Harlequins at the Ricoh Arena on Sunday 15 February (KO2pm) are still available at the Ricoh Arena Monday-Friday 9am-5pm and match day, through the Online Ticket Office or via the ticketline on 08448471867.