Le Roux: We’re a side not afraid to play

On the back of last weekend’s win over Newcastle Falcons, Willie Le Roux feels things are starting to click into place, as Wasps prepare for Sunday’s trip to Reading to face London Irish. 

Wasps’ 40-10 win over Newcastle at the Ricoh Arena last Saturday saw them rise from ninth to sixth in the Aviva Premiership.

Named man of the match in the bonus-point win, Willie Le Roux was at the heart of a lot of what was good about the performance and he said he, like the team, has begun to rediscover some form in the last few games.

“My mum can always tell when I’m having fun out there,’ said Le Roux. ‘If I’m not smiling on the field she’ll ask me what’s going wrong, and if I’m smiling then she knows I’m enjoying it and it’s going well.

“I think sometimes you can try too hard. You want to do better, you try to do more and then you make more mistakes. Things are starting to click a bit more for us now, the ball’s bouncing our way a bit and I’m just excited for what we can do when things really click into place.

“I think the first few weeks of the season, we didn’t have that much fun. You could tell by the way that we played; everyone knows how Wasps can play. If you have fun on the field with your mates then everything gels and clicks and then the results will come. I think we’ve really stepped up our defence, our first phase attack is very good, we’re really well structured there now so things are definitely going well.”

This Sunday Wasps travel to the Madejski Stadium, where they will face a London Irish team who narrowly missed out 22-18 to Bath last weekend, a result which saw them switch places with Worcester at the bottom of the Aviva Premiership. Le Roux was quick to point out that, despite their league position, London Irish ran Bath close and will be a handful for the men in black and gold on Sunday.

“Any team in this competition can beat anyone, home or away. We saw that with London Irish going close against Bath and Worcester beating Northampton. We know how tight this league is and we know that our sole focus has to be on the weekend coming up. Very early this week, we turned our attention to London Irish and we’ve been working hard to make sure we’re prepared. 

“They’re a team who will try to put pressure on us, they’ll get up off the line and try to stop us that way, so we have to be clever with how we use field position and when we decide to play.

“We have to continue what’s been going so well in the last few weeks. We’re a side who aren’t afraid to play from anywhere on the pitch, whether it’s from our 22 or in theirs. It’s about being in shape and giving it a crack. If you have fun out there as well, enjoy each others company then things will tend to go for you.”

Nizaam Carr’s addition to the squad in recent weeks has seen the South African contingent at the club swell to four and Le Roux said the group have all helped each other integrate quickly, with Ashley Johnson paving the way.

“When I first arrived, Ashley was the one who was looking after me for the first few months and he then passed that onto me a little bit by the time that Juan [De Jongh] arrived, so I looked after him and then when Nizaam got here it was Juan who showed him the ropes. 

“We speak a bit of Afrikaans in the locker room but the other boys don’t like it because they can't understand, so we’ve tried to teach them some Afrikaans words and try to keep it mostly to English. On the field it just happens, English or Afrikaans, you just play. 

“Me and Ashley have come a long way since the Cheetahs days, and it was great arriving here with someone I knew to show me the way. De Jongh and Nizaam were always enemies for us back home because they were Stormers boys," he joked, "so playing with them and getting to know them has been a lot of fun. It’s good to have some Saffas over here and enjoying each others company.

“It helps when you get here and you know somebody, have played with somebody who’s already at the club. Ashley played his 150th game for the club at the weekend, he’s a legend here and everyone loves Ashley, so it made it a lot easier for me. I feel at home here now, I feel like I’ve been here a long time. I think De Jongh and Nizaam are feeling the same, they’ve settled in very quickly, it’s a nice family vibe over here.”

After Wasps' contest against London Irish in Reading, the squad will return to home action at the Ricoh Arena and a formidable Midlands derby against Leicester Tigers.

Tickets are available from wasps.co.uk/tickets

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