Looking ahead to 2019/20

As we prepare for the 2019/20 season, there are a number of reasons to be excited with some international-class signings while a number of first-team stars have penned new deals to remain at the Club.

Let’s take a look at some of those who have signed on for 2019/20:

 

 

 

NEW SIGNINGS

NEW SIGNINGS

Malakai Fekitoa

Position: Centre
DOB: 10/5/1992 
Height: 6ft 2in
Weight: 99kg
Honours: New Zealand

New Zealand centre Malakai Fekitoa will join Wasps from French giants Toulon in the summer, after two seasons in France. The All Black World Cup winner will make the switch to Ricoh Arena where he will link up with former international and club teammate Lima Sopoaga.

Fekitoa, who can play at 12 or 13, has bagged eight international tries in 24 appearances for the All Blacks, including two tries at the 2015 Rugby World Cup as he was part of the side which won back-to-back titles for the first time ever.

The powerful centre already has a wealth of experience on his shoulders after four seasons with the Highlanders, where he helped them to a first ever Super Rugby title in 2015.

 


Jeff Toomaga-Allen

Position: Tighthead prop
DOB: 19/11/1990
Height: 6ft 4in
Weight: 125kg
Honours: New Zealand

Highly-rated All Black tighthead Jeff Toomaga-Allen will join Wasps from Super Rugby outfit the Hurricanes in the summer. Toomaga-Allen, who picked up a New Zealand cap against Japan in 2013, was also named in the 2017 Rugby Championship squad.

The stocky front-rower burst onto the Super Rugby scene with the Canes in 2012 and later helped them win the title in 2016 as they defeated the Lions 20-3 in the final. Toomaga-Allen will link up with former teammate Brad Shields at Wasps, with both having made their Hurricanes debuts back in 2012, and both also reaching the 100-appearance milestone for the Club in 2018.

 


Matteo Minozzi

Position: Full back/Wing
Born: 4/6/1996 
Height: 5ft 9in
Weight: 77kg
Honours: Italy

Talented young Italy international Matteo Minozzi will join Wasps from Zebre Rugby. The electric back already has ten Test caps to his name with Italy and will be making the switch to Ricoh Arena for the 2019/20 season.

Minozzi made his international debut in November 2017 before bursting onto the Six Nations scene in 2018, where he scored tries in four successive games against Ireland, France, Wales and Scotland. The Italian’s stellar performances in his debut Six Nations campaign saw him named in the Team of the Tournament while he was also shortlisted for the Player of the Tournament award.

 


Sione Vailanu

Position: Back row
DOB: 27/1/1995
Height: 6ft 1in
Weight: 119kg
Honours: Tonga

Saracens and Tonga powerhouse Sione Vailanu will join Wasps next season. The big number eight has played four times for Tonga, which included a try at the Millenium Stadium in their recent Autumn International against Wales.

The giant back row previously spent several years in Japan having played Sevens rugby, before making the switch to Saracens.

 



Ben Vellacott

Position: Scrum half
DOB: 28/3/1995
Height: 5ft 5in
Weight: 78kg
Honours: Scotland U20

Promising young scrum half Ben Vellacott will join the Club in the summer from Gloucester Rugby after two seasons at the cherry and whites.

His breakthrough season came in 2017/18 where he made 27 appearances, scoring seven tries and subsequently being called up to train with the England squad. He previously spent time at Hartpury College, while he was also a part of the Scotland Under 20 squad for the Junior World Championship in 2015.

 



Jack Owlett

Position: Tighthead prop
DOB: 3/2/1995
Height: 6ft 1in
Weight: 122kg
Honours: Scotland U20

Promising Exeter Chiefs tighthead prop Jack Owlett will make the switch to Ricoh Arena in the summer after spending two seasons with the 2016/17 Premiership champions. Owlett was a key part of the University of Exeter side which lifted the BUCS title at Twickenham in 2016, with his on-field displays catching the attention of the Chiefs, who used the A League as an opportunity to look at the tighthead’s potential before offering him a Senior Academy contract. Hear Dai's thoughts on the new signing.

jack-owlett

 



Biyi Alo

Position: Tighthead prop
DOB: 16/3/1994
Height: 6ft 2in
Weight: 138kg
Honours: England U20

Giant tighthead prop Biyi Alo will make the switch from Coventry Rugby after initially joining Wasps as injury cover earlier this year but has impressed during his short time to earn a permanent deal with the Club. Alo came through the Saracens Academy and featured for the first-team during the 2015 campaign, before making the switch to Worcester Warriors where he made 30 appearances, scoring four tries. Watch this interview with Rob Miller talking about the new signing.

biyi-alo

 



Mike Daniels

Position: Prop
DOB: 24/7/1992
Height: 6ft 2in
Weight: 117kg

Mike Daniels will make the switch to Ricoh Arena in the summer from Championship outfit Nottingham Rugby. Wasps fans will be no stranger to the powerful prop, who made his debut for the Club in December against Saracens at Allianz Park when he stepped in as injury cover.

In his earlier years, Daniels played for Northcote Birkenhead in New Zealand before studying at Loughborough University while representing Loughborough Students in National League One. He then made the switch to Worcester Warriors in 2014, making 34 first-team appearances before moving to Hartpury in 2017 and then Nottingham last summer. Watch this interview with Dai Young as he gave his thoughts about the new signing.

mike-daniels

RE-SIGNINGS

RE-SIGNINGS

Ashley Johnson

Position: Hooker/back row
DOB: 16/5/1986
Height: 6ft
Weight: 119kg
Honours: South Africa

The South African-born forward signed a new deal in December to build on his seven years at the Club. With over 180 appearances under his belt and 35-plus tries, the big man leads from the front, having captained the side on a number of occasions.

In his pre-Wasps days, Johnson earned three Springbok caps during his time with Cheetahs and his experience will be key to the squad both on and off the field moving forward.

 

Jimmy Gopperth

Position: Centre/fly half
DOB: 29/06/1983
Height: 5ft 10in
Weight: 90kg

Another veteran of the side, Jimmy Gopperth penned a new deal with the Club in December, as he looks to build on his whopping 750-plus points for the Club next season.

The Kiwi wrote his name into Wasps folklore with a European Cup quarter-final-winning touchline conversion against Exeter Chiefs in 2016 and a phenomenal 2016/17 campaign saw him named as Premiership, RPA and Wasps Player of the Season, while helping the Club reach the European quarter-finals and also the Premiership final. In addition to this, he lifted the Golden Boot for a third time having previously twice finished as the Premiership’s top marksman.

Last season the Kiwi was at it again as he helped the men in Black and Gold to the Premiership semi-finals, as he did in 2015/16, before an unfortunate injury in the 2018/19 pre-season which has seen the stand off sidelined for the last seven months.

During his earlier career, Gopperth played Super Rugby at both the Hurricanes and the Blues while also representing the Junior All Blacks before making the switch to the Northern Hemisphere where he played for Newcastle Falcons and Leinster Rugby.

 

Tommy Taylor

Position: Hooker
DOB: 11/11/1991
Height: 6ft
Weight: 104kg
Honours: England

England international Tommy Taylor signed a second Wasps contract in December before going on to reach 100 Premiership appearances in the 2018/19 campaign. The hooker joined the Club in 2016 from Sale Sharks, where he made over 100 appearances, before helping Wasps to the Premiership final in his first season at the Club. 

The all-action front row will be looking to build on his 40-plus caps while his work at the set-piece and tackle will be crucial in the new campaign – in a position where fellow hookers Tom Cruse and Ashley Johnson have also signed new deals.

 

Simon McIntyre

Position: Loosehead prop
DOB: 19/03/1991
Height: 6ft
Weight: 118kg

The loosehead prop signed a new deal in December as he prepares to build on his eight years at the Club. With well over 150 appearances in the Black and Gold, his experience in the front row will be key heading into the new campaign.

In his early days, the Manchester-born front rower was primarily a tighthead, playing his rugby at Broughton Park prior to joining the Sale Academy in 2009, from where he went on to represent the first-team.

 

Juan de Jongh

Position: Centre
DOB: 15/04/1988
Height: 5ft 10in
Weight: 87kg
Honours: South Africa

Springbok centre Juan de Jongh arrived at Ricoh Arena in the summer of 2017 and is fast approaching 50 appearances in the Black and Gold. Signing on for his second deal, the back has shown his prowess in both attack and defence and will no doubt be another key cog in the backline next season.

In his earlier days, De Jongh was a standout performer in his hometown Cape Town, where he was part of a Stormers side which reached the 2010 Super Rugby final, as well as the semi-finals in 2011 and 2012, while also attaining two Currie Cup titles with Western Province in 2012 and 2014.  

He has 19 South Africa caps to his name, along with two tries at the 2011 Rugby World Cup, adding to a bronze medal he picked up with his country’s Sevens team at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

 

Kieran Brookes

Position: Tighthead prop
DOB: 29/08/1980
Height: 6ft 2in
Weight: 129kg
Honours: England

England international Kieran Brookes arrived from Northampton Saints in the summer of 2018 and recently signed a new deal to commit his future to the Club.

The powerhouse tighthead prop has 16 international caps to his name, having made his debut in New Zealand in 2014 before going on to be part of the 2016 Grand Slam-winning squad and the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

He has a wealth of top-level experience, having racked up 121 Premiership appearances as well as featuring 35 times in European competitions too – something that will be crucial to Wasps’ front row in 2019/20.

Although mainly known as a tighthead, Brookes has played across all three front row positions.

 

Zurabi Zhvania

Position: Loosehead prop
DOB: 23/09/1991
Height: 5ft 10in
Weight: 125kg
Honours: Georgia

The big Georgian prop committed his future to the Club early in 2018/19 before helping his country win the Rugby Europe Championship in March.

The 27-year-old has been in impressive form for Wasps since joining in the summer of 2018, following his six-year spell at Stade Francais where he played over 100 games and helped the club win the Top 14 in 2015 and European Challenge Cup in 2017.

 

Ben Harris

Position: Loosehead prop
DOB: 28/04/1989
Height: 6ft 4in
Weight: 126kg

Loosehead prop Ben Harris signed a new Wasps deal in December to extend his two-year stay at the Club.

Before his arrival at Ricoh Arena, Harris had spells with Newcastle Falcons, Rotherham Titans and Yorkshire Carnegie. The England Counties prop enjoyed an impressive first year at the Club, making 17 appearances and starting in the Premiership semi-final against Saracens. He’s been a busy man this season too this season, racking up 23 appearances and scoring his first try in the Black and Gold against former club Newcastle in March.

The big man just gets better and better with gametime and will no doubt be a big part of the 2019/20 campaign.

 

Rob Miller

Position: Full back/fly half
DOB: 05/08/1989
Height: 5ft 11in
Weight: 90kg

The all-round clubman has put pen to paper on his fourth Wasps contract, as he prepares to become a Club centurion.

The versatile back, who usually stars at full back, has recently proved an able deputy at fly half in the absence of Lima Sopoaga, Jimmy Gopperth and Billy Searle. The England Saxon has also shown his prowess from the kicking tee, having kicked 12 out of 13 when called upon this season (as of 2/4/19).

In his earlier days, Miller began his professional career in the Newcastle Falcons Academy while also having represented his country at U16, U18 and U20 levels. He then made the switch to Sale Sharks where he enjoyed four highly successful seasons, finishing as the Premiership’s top tryscorer in 2011/12 and making more than 100 senior appearances before switching to Wasps in 2014.

 

Tom Cruse

Position: Hooker
DOB: 30/03/1989
Height: 5ft 10in
Weight: 100kg

Tom Cruse joined Wasps in 2016 from London Irish and soon established himself in the first-team as well as a popular member amongst the squad. He’s gone on to rack up over 50 appearances and was voted as the Players’ Player of the Season in 2017/18.

As a youngster, his talented displays caught the eye of Wasps Backs Coach Lee Blackett, then at the helm of Championship outfit Rotherham Titans, where he enjoyed a prolific two-season spell during which he claimed numerous man-of-the-match awards and was named in the Championship Dream Team.

He will add plenty of grit to the front row in 2019/20 and with Harris, McIntyre, Zhvania, Taylor, Johnson and Brookes all committing, there’s certainly plenty of continuity in the Black and Gold front row.

 

 

Marcus Watson

Position: Winger
DOB: 27/06/1991
Height: 5ft 10in
Weight: 88kg
Honours: England 7s

Marcus Watson recently signed a new deal with the Club, after making the switch to Ricoh Arena in 2017. 

In his first two seasons in the Black and Gold, the speedster has shown his potency in attack with a number of tries - including one against Leicester Tigers which witnessed the wideman run 70 metres as he beat five men to accelerate to the whitewash.

After Watson started his senior career at London Irish, he moved to Saracens before spending three years representing England on the World Sevens circuit.

He picked up a silver medal in the 2016 Rio Olympics as part of the Great Britain Rugby Sevens squad before transitioning back to the 15-a-side format with Newcastle.

 

Ben Morris

Position: Back row
DOB: 13/12/1991
Height: 6ft 2in
Weight: 108kg

The 27-year-old arrived at Ricoh Arena from Nottingham Rugby in 2018, having impressed in the back row alongside current Wasps Academy Coach Matt Everard and working under the tutelage of the now Wasps Defence Coach Ian Costello.

The big forward, who has also operated in the second row on occasions, began his rugby with Leeds Carnegie while still at school, before being picked up by the Newcastle Falcons Academy. After two seasons on loan at National League Blaydon, he also won England Counties honours and represented Rotherham Titans in the Championship while on dual registration, before moving south to Nottingham in 2015 where he made 70 senior appearances.