Mullan targeting must-win European showdown

As Wasps prepare to take on Harlequins at the Ricoh Arena this Sunday in the European Champions Cup, Matt Mullan says it’s ‘vitally important for both teams to win’.

Having lost their proud home record at the Ricoh Arena to Harlequins less than a month ago, Wasps are all too aware of the threat of the visitors, and Mullan says a result this Sunday would be a big boost for the men in black and gold.

“We lost to Harlequins a few weeks ago,’ he said, ‘so we know it’s going to be incredibly tough. We were massively proud of our record at the Ricoh, it was something we had fought hard long and hard to try and maintain, and it was a big kick in the teeth to lose that record. 

“We know it’s going to be hard; it’s vitally important for both teams to win on Sunday and for us it’s always important to win your home games. For us it’s all about getting a result and getting this show back on the road.

“Traditionally they’ve always been a side that have liked to play with the ball, but they’ve got a bit of steel about them too. They came up here and were really physical so we will definitely have our work cut out.”

Wasps go into Sunday’s game on the back of five losses in all competitions but Mullan says it’s not time to press the panic button as the team work hard to turn things around.

“Hopefully sooner rather than later we can come out of the other side of it. There’s no point sitting in corners of the changing room blaming each other or blaming anyone outside of the playing group, ultimately we are the one’s who go out to deliver the game plan and collectively we’re responsible. The reason we got where we did last year was the effort of the collective, from day one of pre-season. We’re in it together and we’re going to come out of it together.

“The commitment, the buy-in as a group, is always there, but as a senior player there is a responsibility to lead by example or to put across the bits of detail. Everybody knows it’s about taking on board what the coaches are saying and trying to deliver your individual responsibility. Everyone needs to be on the same page and stick to what we are trying to do."

Asked if the number of injuries sustained in the early part of the season was a major factor in the run of defeats, Mullan was quick to avoid using that as an explanation.

“I don’t think Dai or us as players will look to that as an excuse. Whoever Dai picks, we have the belief that they are good enough to deliver their role. We didn’t get to where we did last year with fifteen players. We put a lot of our success last season down to the competitive nature of our squad, so it would seem wrong to turn around and blame injuries this season. We know there are injuries and of course it does have an impact, but that is not the sole reason why we have struggled to win games.

“There are a few things that need to be worked on rather than just one magic solution. You can't pinpoint one particular area, I just think we have to improve across the board. We need to work to get back that buzz and excitement, and the self-belief that we had last year.

“As players, we all understand the size of the game this Sunday. Both sides have to get a result to keep alive a realistic chance of progressing in Europe. We need a result as a group and we are at home, so there’s been a real buzz in training this week and we’re excited about Sunday.”

Tickets for Sunday’s European Champions Cup game against Harlequins at the Ricoh Arena are available to purchase online at wasps.co.uk/tickets, starting from just £24 for adults with Under 10s FREE in most areas of the stadium.