James Gaskell confident big Ricoh Arena occasion will inspire Wasps
After shaking off a frustrating spell of injuries, James Gaskell has been part of the match-day 23 in Wasps’ last nine Aviva Premiership and European Champions Cup outings.
This sequence began with defeats against Saracens and Ulster, after which the subsequent seven games produced six wins. The 27-year-old lock is therefore well placed to assess his club’s readiness for consecutive Premiership encounters with Gloucester, Bath and Saracens, who sit directly above fifth-placed Wasps in the table.
“We've got our destiny in our hands, and the next three games are against the three teams closest to us,” he says.
“If we perform, we're going to be in with a chance of closing the gap on Exeter, and momentum is a massive thing.
“We know we've got to play three tough teams and it's going to take three big performances to get there, but we've just come off the back of a win and there's a good vibe in the camp.
“If we can take that forward, and play the stuff we want to play, then we know we're going to be in with a shout.”
After finishing either eighth or ninth in each of the last four seasons, the arrival of head coach Johan Ackermann has seen Saturday’s visitors make a flying start to the current campaign.
The cherry-and-whites currently trail only league leaders Exeter, but while Gaskell has been impressed by their efforts this term, he also has plenty of confidence about Wasps’ prospects.
“You have to give a lot of credit to Gloucester this year, they're a completely different animal and some of the stuff they've produced is really impressive,” he says.
“We had a slow start, but we've built really nicely and the last six weeks have shown what we can do. Hopefully we can start putting in 80 minute performances, and we've peaked at the right time of the year.
“We're not too concerned about what other teams are going to bring here, as we know that if we play our way and play right then the other team has to live up to what we're doing.
“That will be the same again this week, if we do our bits right then we're going to be in the game, and you'd like to think that if we're in the game with 60 minutes to go at home, then we can push on to win.”
With 26,000 tickets already sold, the Christmas clash is set to take place in the kind of atmosphere which Gaskell says inspires top level players.
“The energy from a big crowd is unbelievable,” he says, “and when someone makes a little break the roar that comes up really does reach the boys.
“I don't know whether it's subconscious, but you feel you have to play up a little bit, and make sure you don't make that mistake.
“The performers we have in the backline, like Kyle Eastmond, Danny Cipriani and Christian Wade, really respond to big crowds as that's the arena they enjoy and thrive in.”
Saturday's game kicks off at 3pm - tickets are available from www.wasps.co.uk/tickets or by phone on 02476 786411.