Leiua hungry for more

Alapati Leiua returned as a replacement on Saturday as he brought to an end a spell on the sidelines that stretched back to the final game of last season, against London Irish.

Away from the field, the Samoan centre has been working hard with the physio team to return to match fitness.

“It was mixed emotions for me at the weekend” said Leiua. “Despite the result against Exeter, it was great for me to get back out there. It’s been a long time now and I’ve worked really hard to get back, so to finally pull on a shirt again was really good for me.

“It was a strange feeling running back out onto the pitch, but I loved it. Being away is always difficult but I’m just looking forward now and I can’t wait to play as much as possible if I can get into the match day squad.

“The physio team here have been great and I’ve worked as hard as I can to get back. They’ve been very good to me and I’m just really pleased to be back fit and playing.”

In Leiua’s absence, the team have got off to a mixed start to the season, including the European highlights against Leinster and Toulon, mixed with losses to the likes of Harlequins, Leicester and Sunday’s defeat at the hands of Exeter Chiefs. Leiua says that being forced to watch the wins over two European giants from the stands was hard for him personally, but a huge positive for everyone involved with the club.

“The boys have done really well with some great results and it was brilliant to watch them beating the likes of Toulon and Leinster, but not being involved in those teams has also been hard. To now be back involved is great and I’m really looking forward to playing my part.”

In a competitive backline, Leiua now faces his next challenge of breaking back into the side, a test he is looking forward to. 

“It’s a really good group of players, so it’s hard to break into that backline, but it just means that we all have to get better, which is good for the squad. I know, coming back from injury that I have to do well if I am to take a spot from someone else. When I get a chance, I just have to play as well as I can.”

Leiua is very familiar with two of the players who have added to the strength of that group this season and he says they have brought with them a huge amount of class and experience.

“I’ve played with those guys [Frank Halai and Charles Piutau] before, I know how good they are and it’s great to have them here. They’ve added a lot since they came into the squad and the strength in depth we now have is really good. They are both really good guys and they’ve slotted into the team well. I’m just looking forward to playing some more with them now!”

Wasps now require a reaction after last weekend’s loss at home as they prepare for back-to-back European games against last year’s Aviva Premiership finalists Bath.

“As you can imagine, everyone was very disappointed after Saturday’s defeat. We know we need to be more accurate with what we’re doing and show a bit more desire.

“We know how hard it will be against Bath, they are a very good side. We played them earlier in the year and we know they have some really good players. They will also have their World Cup internationals back, as will we.

“It will be a big boost for us playing the first of these two games against the Premiership finalists at the Ricoh Arena. There have been some big wins there for us and the support we get in Coventry is always a big boost, but we know we need to be at the top of our game again to get a win this weekend.”

Tickets for this Sunday’s game against Bath at the Ricoh Arena are available to purchase online here or by calling 02476 786 411.