Wasps supporters have been almost unanimous in their support of the temporary return of fans’ favourite to ease their back row crisis.
International call-ups for Jack Willis and Alfie Barbeary have been compounded by injuries to Tom Willis, Brad Shields, Sione Vailanu and academy option Kieran Curran.
It leaves Lee Blackett with just two specialist back rows in his squad in the form of Thomas Young and Ben Morris for Saturday’s visit of Newcastle Falcons to the Ricoh Arena.
While the likes of new signing Josh Caulfield and hooker Gabriel Oghre can play out of position on the back row, it has left Wasps sweating on the release of Barbeary from the Test squad later this week to help ease their concerns.
However, Wasps supporters have come up with their own solution. Guy Thompson made 100 appearances in five seasons for the Black and Golds before moving to Leicester Tigers in 2018.
After two seasons at Welford Road his contract was not renewed earlier this year and ambitious Championship club Ealing Trailfinders swooped to claim his services.
However, with no start date set for the start of the 2020/1 season of the second tier of English rugby, Thompson, aged 33, could be an attractive option on a short-term basis.
The suggestion was made on Twitter and has gathered strength with a post placed on the Wasps Rugby Live Facebook page. Below is a snapshot of what some supporters said.
Michael Cooper: “100% even just for his experience and edge in training but I’m sure he would get game time too.”
Gary Turner: “No question whatsoever! Gives 200% every game.”
Debbie Burgess: “Absolutely. Love Guy.”
Matthew Squelly Cappell: “If injury free would be a good bit of business didn’t have much luck at tigers but would give us a big boost.”
Richard Marsh: OAWAAW! Hell yes. [Once a Wasp, always a Wasp].
Across the duration of the more-than-year-long 2019/20 season, Wasps waved goodbye to four senior back row options. Alex Rieder retired in December 2019 after a recurrence of his knee injury before South African duo Nizaam Carr and Ashley Johnson left the club upon the conclusion of their contracts during the mid-season break due to Covid-19.
Thibaud Flament, who played primarily at lock, started his Wasps career on the back row. He joined Toulouse after the end of last season and made his debut on Saturday against Agen.
But Blackett stressed on Monday he would look to talent within his squad before seeking quick fixes.
He said: “If we’ve got a young kid who is coming through who we think is up to the standard or very close to the standard, I’d rather give him the opportunity rather than bring in someone else, a 27 or 28-year-old from the Championship who is going to stop that.
“Injuries aren’t great for any team, but I like to think it will open up an opportunity to get a kid in quicker and try and speed up his progression.”
Our reporter Bobby Bridge’s verdict…
“While the call up of Alfie Barbeary is a wonderful story for the individual, his family, Wasps and Wasps academy, it creates a bit of a nightmare for Lee Blackett. Even if the 20-year-old is released from the Test set up ahead of the Autumn Nations Cup final, it’ll be at very late notice towards the back end of the week.
“Guy is loved by Wasps supporters because he gave everything for the club and played with so much passion. They were devastated to see him leave in 2018 but Tigers offered him a great deal for a player who by then was entering his thirties.
“I spoke to him recently and he is fit and firing and full of praise for what is happening at Ealing Trailfinders, and he recently played, and scored against Newcastle Falcons – Wasps’ next opponents – in a friendly.
“I’m sure he won’t admit as much publicly as Guy is loyal to Ealing who kept him in professional rugby, but I’m confident he’d love one last shot at the Premiership and to do it in the Black and Gold of Wasps, then return to Ealing for the start of the Championship season, whenever that might be.
“Will Wasps pay out for a 33-year-old to return on a short-term basis? Probably not, is the honest answer. But there’s something about this that just fits and his presence I’m sure would provide a huge lift entering Saturday’s game and the European matches that will follow.”