Hughes primed to hit one hundred
As Wasps prepare to face Harlequins at the Ricoh Arena on Sunday, the game is set to be of particular importance to Nathan Hughes.
Prepped to feature in his 100th Wasps game if he is selected to face Harlequins, Hughes says that, having arrived at the club from Auckland as a fresh-faced 22-year-old, he will be extremely proud of making it to 100 appearances.
“I’m very proud, it’s a great achievement,” he said. “I’ve been at the club a little while now, I think this is my fifth season and I’ve been lucky to stay fit and free of injuries and to keep getting selected. If I’m picked this weekend and play in my 100th game for the club it will be a huge achievement for me and for my family.”
Hughes arrived at the club in the summer of 2013 as a relative unknown. Since then he has become a mainstay of the Wasps backrow and has gone on to represent his adopted nation 10 times to date, including the most recent tour of Argentina, and Hughes admits that his time at Wasps has been a crucial period in his development.
“I’ve definitely changed as a player and as a person over that period. A lot has happened in those five years, moving from London to Coventry with the club, playing for England and rugby has only moved in a positive direction for me. I think there is still a lot more to come, a lot of learning still to do and I’m really looking forward to it.
“At the start, my focus was really to come over here, get some experience, and then go back home as a better rugby player, but things change and I made the decision to stay and I’ve come a long way since then. Now I’m playing my 100th game for Wasps and, when you look at the other guys who have achieved that in my position for the club, the likes of Dallaglio and those calibre of players, I just want to be a part of that and I’m really excited to get out there at the Ricoh Arena and get my 100th.
“I’m very thankful to the club for the opportunities they have given me but in particular I’m thankful to Dai for trusting in me, giving me the opportunity and backing me to succeed. Without him I wouldn’t be here, he took a bit of a chance on me back then and I will always be very thankful to Dai for that.”
Hughes returned to the club ahead of the new season as a regular in the international set-up, and he says that his experiences in a white shirt have given him more focus in black and gold.
“Playing at international level gives you that bit more experience and opens your eyes a little bit to the levels that can and are being achieved. When you come back to the club you want to bring a little bit of that back with you, add that experience to the team and help the team go in the right direction. Last season was a good start for us and this year I think we’ll continue to go in the right direction. We want to go one better and that means us all pulling together to achieve that.”
Last season ended in heartbreak for Wasps, as they narrowly missed out to Exeter Chiefs in the Aviva Premiership Final, but Hughes says that defeat has only added to the squad’s resolve.
“We went on a journey together last season over the course of the year, we got to the final and we fell just short. I think everyone knows that it hurt us to fall just short and this year everyone is focused on trying to go one better. With the bunch of boys we have here, including the new boys who have all contributed really well to the group, I think this season is going to be a good one for us and I’m just excited to be a part of it.
“When we gel together as a group off the field and do stuff together, I think that shows on the field. This group now feel as though, when we go out there of a weekend, we can really trust each other and everyone has each other’s back. The more we keep doing stuff off the field together and get to know each other better, the more that will show on the field as a team and we’ve definitely seen that at the start of this season.
“In this league you have to take one week at a time, focus on the team you’re playing and make sure you don’t catch yourself looking too far ahead. The results so far in the Aviva Premiership after two rounds have shown that anyone can beat anyone. So far we’ve won against Sale and Worcester, who both challenged us in different ways, but we know that every week is a different challenge.
“This weekend we face Harlequins and we know from our battles with them over the years just how tough they can be. We want the Ricoh Arena to be a fortress for us and we will prepare thoroughly for them and make sure we are ready to go come Sunday.” Tickets for Wasps vs Harlequins are currently on sale from just £24 for adults and remember Under 10s go FREE in most areas of the stadium.
Emergency services staff can also purchase additional tickets to the free ticket already registered for, at a discounted rate using a discount code available from their local representatives.