Heading into Wasps’ European decider against Stade Français at Stade Jean-Bouin this Saturday, Dai Young highlights the areas the squad have been working on in the lead up to arguably the biggest encounter of the season.
“Last Sunday we were very good in patches and a little bit inaccurate in patches – which has pretty much been the story of our season. A lot of aspects of the game were very pleasing, but again it is frustrating when you work so hard to gain points and then you let some slip.
“The lapses in concentration or accuracy have cost us throughout the season and I’m hoping this is something we have to go through as part of the development of the team and come out the other end. Two seasons ago, Harlequins went through something very similar and they came out the other end and have been a different team since.
“I’d like to think we will make fewer errors this week and everyone is working hard at that. A win last weekend was the most important thing for us. I think realistically, unless you have at least a 15 point lead, it doesn’t really change a lot. You always have to aim to go out there to win the game, and to be honest it makes things a lot clearer now. We know what we’ve got to do and we’ve just got to go over there and do it.
“If we go out there and think we are in a good position and just defend, then we will be on the wrong end of a good hiding. They are a quality team with world stars and we are going to have to play to the best of our ability and score a lot of points to win.
“But, if we play for 80 minutes how we did in patches last weekend with ball in hand, I think it will be enough to be honest. We can score tries and cause them lots of problems, but we need to be very efficient without the ball and we can’t make the same mistakes defensively as we made at the weekend.”
Discussing the sense of occasion experienced last weekend and recognising the prize on offer this Saturday, Young said: “The weather helped massively with the sense of occasion felt last weekend. Had we played that game in November, it would have been nowhere near as quick out there.
“Certainly everyone gets excited when they see some of the stars Stade have in their ranks and everyone wants to be measured against the best and playing in the best competition. We are no different. To get Stade Français, Toulon and other big French teams coming to Adams Park would be a huge thing for the Club, both on and off the pitch.”
Young also acknowledged this will be the biggest game in some of his players’ careers: “In terms of atmosphere I think it will be fantastic out there. Some of the players have experienced great atmospheres before, and this is a game of huge importance, especially for the players themselves.
“Let’s not forget they all want to be playing top tier European rugby too, so it’s just as important to them as it is to every fan and to everyone working in the Wasps office. It’s a big game for everybody involved in the Club because everybody wants the same thing, everybody wants to be playing in the top tier.”
Speaking about Nathan Hughes’ return to Fiji for his wedding this weekend, Young said: “It is disappointing that Nathan won’t be with us, but these things happen in life and in fairness to him he organised the wedding before he even came here last summer.
“Nathan also delayed going back home so he could play the first play-off, but obviously he couldn’t change his wedding, especially given how many guests had already booked their flights to Fiji, and he goes with our best wishes. We would love him to be part of it, but we understand it’s something that can’t be helped, especially as these play-offs were only organised in the last six weeks or so.
“Certainly over the last two months he has been excellent and he has shown what a big influence he will be on the team next season. I think he still needs to improve a little bit on his fitness and a little bit on his defensive capabilities, but ball in hand he has really shown us the kind of player he is going to be for us next season.
“But you can’t single out individual players in a game of this magnitude against a team like Stade Français, who have a huge squad, brimming with internationals. It will require a massive collective effort from us, with every player aiming to be at the top of their game. If we can match the desire and intensity we should in defence last week, continue to create problems for them through our pace in attack, and cut out the errors leading to soft points, I am confident the boys can go out there and get the win we all want.”