Complete Wasps performance required to beat Saints says Danny Cipriani
Date: 24 Apr 2018
On more than one occasion during my conversation with Danny Cipriani he refers to the importance he attaches to staying ‘in the moment.’
Nonetheless, it is still something of a surprise when he admits he is yet to fully absorb that next weekend’s visit of Northampton to the Ricoh could be his final home appearance for Wasps.
“I haven’t given it a huge amount of thought yet, and it does feel a bit strange hearing you say the words,” he says. “I’m sure there will be some emotion on the day as our group has been through a lot together over the last two years.
“It was very tough for us to see our teammate Sam Jones having to retire at such a young age. During the short time I got to play with him he immediately became one of my favourite ever flankers – and not just because he made some of my tackles!
“We’ve also had to deal with a lot of other injuries, but it has really shown the resilience we have as a squad to still be in the play-off mix.
“Last season things very much went our way and although the final defeat was tough to take we’ve definitely learned from it.
“By contrast, we’ve had a few more challenges this year, with injuries and bans, but I’ve really enjoyed it as a result.
“We’re still in there battling despite the challenges and that is very pleasing. It is also a real testament to the squad and I hope we can go one further this year.”
The next step towards achieving that objective is on Sunday when the Saints arrive at the Ricoh for a vital round 21 Aviva Premiership clash.
And when assessing their threat, Wasps’ No.10 is placing much more weight on last week’s success at Welford Road than the league table.
“Northampton will come here with a big point to prove,” he says. “They have not really performed like a Saints team for much of this season, but you saw from what they did against Leicester that they have plenty of bite left in them.
“We are definitely not taking it lightly, we have to be prepared for an abrasive, physical game and make sure we have prepared as thoroughly as possible.
“We have to take care of our own performance, and look across the four quarters of the game and make sure we have the right approach and attitude for the whole 80 minutes.
“If we can manage that it will also serve us well for the Newcastle game the following week then for the play-off games that hopefully follow.
“We’re showing some good form towards the end of the season which is a big thing for us. If you look at the Leicester and Sale games, there were moments where we were clinical but unfortunately there were some when we let it slip and they cost us the results.
“We then put together a more complete performance against Worcester, which we now need to build on for the rest of the season.”
When pushed, Cipriani briefly departs the here-and-now for a second time to reflect on the last two years. Including his first spell, between 2006 and 10, he has now spent six years in black-and-gold, and in the process racked up nearly 150 appearances, He has also, it transpires, gained a kitbag full of fond memories.
“It’s going to be very tough for me to say goodbye to this group of boys,” he acknowledges. “I’ve really enjoyed the environment, so I know I’ll always look back on this time very fondly.
“The connection with the Wasps fans has also always been a special one. It’s incredible how many faces I still recognise from Wycombe, and the newer fans also show the same respect, passion and pride in wearing a Wasps shirt and believing in it.
“I’d like to send huge thanks to all of them for always making me feel so welcome and will obviously be giving it my all for them for the remainder of the season.”
The rest of Paul Smith’s interview with Danny Cipriani is in next Sunday’s match programme.
Tickets are still available for the round 21 Aviva Premiership visit of Northampton Saints on Sunday April 29.
To book seats visit the Ricoh Arena ticket office, go to www.wasps.co.uk/ticketsor call 02476 786411.