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Young looking ahead to new challenges

With the bulk of the 2013/14 squad returning this week for the first block of pre-season training, we spoke to Director of Rugby Dai Young.

Young has had a busy off-season, working with the Barbarians in two tough fixtures, but is now totally focused on overseeing the important summer training period with Wasps.

“We finished our season in early May so the boys got around five weeks off which is probably just about the right length of break. Last year we had a little longer as the squad was exhausted and had obviously suffered a lot with injury, but this year the timing is right for us. The boys will get a small break again in July before then focusing on the second block of pre-season which includes the three pre-season friendly games.”

Not every player is back this week as those involved with summer tours such as Christian Wade, Joe Launchbury and Kearnan Myall, as well as U20s stars Alec Hepburn and Nathan Morris along with others who have played on summer tours, will not be back for a few weeks yet.

“Everyone will get the same break,” Young confirmed.

“Players need to rest so those guys on tours will get the same time off as those who were not. It’s important everyone is fresh by the time we get to the first game. We had a slow start last season and we have learned from that. With an extra pre-season game and a week of training in France in August, we should be in good shape.”

Young confirmed the schedule of the first few weeks back.

“The first week will really be focused in on testing and screening with our strength and conditioning team to see where the guys are at. Then there will obviously be a lot of fitness work involved before we ease into the rugby. There will be lots of opportunities in pre-season for all of the new players to fit in and show us what they can do and we are confident we will have a very competitive squad all desperate to play in the opening fixture at Twickenham.”

While Wasps have already announced a raft of new players to join the squad next season, Young says he is hopeful more names will be added.

“We are definitely in the market for a few more players. One position we and a lot of other Clubs are still looking at is at tight-head because we feel a very experienced player in this position would be a great complement to the excellent young players we have here already. We have been looking for some time in that position but it’s a competitive market for tight-heads and there are not a lot of players available. If we don’t fill it, I am confident our excellent young tight-heads will be capable of stepping up to the mark, but it is certainly one position we would like to strengthen.”

Young will be joined by a new coaching team this season with Stephen Jones taking on the attack and Brad Davis taking on the defence.

“I am looking forward to working with Stephen and Brad. Stephen has already shown us at Wasps that he has what it takes to become a very good coach. He has great vision and his experience as a playmaker will be a big boost to our attack. Brad is also someone with a lot of experience and I think he will do a great job with our defence. Both of those guys are also very popular with the players they have worked with in the past and they will be strong additions for us.”