Injury-hit Wasps are looking to potentially recruit short-term signings – but head coach Lee Blackett stressed it will not be at the expense of giving young players opportunities from within their ranks.
The 2019/20 Gallagher Premiership runners up saw number eight Tom Willis and loosehead prop Ben Harris added to their growing list of unavailable players after both were substituted in the round two loss at Gloucester.
Blackett said the pair will be out ‘for a fair amount of time’ in his media session held on Monday with further details expected later in the week.
The Black and Golds only recently learned that back row Brad Shields could be out for up to eight weeks after damaging ankle ligaments and centre Sam Spink could be sidelined for three months with a foot injury.
They are in addition to the existing injury list that contains the names of Malakai Fekitoa (groin/shoulder), Ryan Mills (foot), Sione Vailanu (ankle), Rob Miller (knee), Marcus Watson (groin).
Wasps continue to manage without a clutch of key players who are away on international duty with Joe Launchbury, Jack Willis and Dan Robson all now England regulars, while Matteo Minozzi (Italy) and Will Rowlands (Wales) have also been heavily involved in the Autumn Nations Cup.
Jacob Umaga has been a part of the England squad during the competition but was released for the opening round win over Bristol Bears. But a head injury suffered at the end of the match ruled him out of the 40-24 loss at Kingsholm, with Blackett now waiting to see if the 22-year-old is included in Eddie Jones’ squad that is preparing for Sunday’s final against France.
“It’s making selection easier! said Blackett. “It’s just who is available! I think we’re going to have look out there, we’re going to have to make sure we don’t get caught short.
“We’re constantly looking if we need to get people in quickly, whether we can get some loan guys. It has been fairly easy with the Championship, but once that gets up and running that will be a lot more difficult. We’re aware of that.
- Joe Launchbury (England)
- Alfie Barbeary (England)
- Will Rowlands (Wales)
- Dan Robson (England)
- Jacob Umaga (England)
- Jack Willis (England)
- Matteo Minozzi (Italy)
- Malakai Fekitoa (groin/shoulder)
- Brad Shields (ankle)
- Tom Willis (ankle)
- Sam Spink (foot)
- Ben Harris (hip)
- Rob Miller (knee)
- Marcus Watson (groin)
- Sione Vailanu (ankle)
- Kieran Curran (calf)
- Will Simonds (hamstring)
- Ryan Mills (foot)
“But 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.
“Sometimes you’ve got to think big picture. I’m super competitive, I want to win every single week, but I’ve got to sometimes slap myself in the face and remind myself of that occasionally when making those decisions.
“If we’re going to give a kid an opportunity I’d rather do that.”
Two players who got opportunities last term were flanker Kieran Curran and back Will Simonds. However both are currently unavailable to Blackett as they also have injuries. Curran has a calf issue while Simonds is in the final stages of his recovery from a hamstring tear suffered on his Premiership debut against Saracens in August.
Forwards (24): Biyi Alo, Alfie Barbeary, Kieran Brookes, Tim Cardall, Tom Cruse, Levi Douglas, James Gaskell, Ben Harris, Joe Launchbury, Simon McIntyre, Ben Morris, Gabriel Oghre, Jack Owlett, Will Rowlands, Brad Shields, Tommy Taylor, Jeff Toomaga-Allen, Sione Vailanu, Theo Vukasinovic, Tom West, Jack Willis, Tom Willis, Thomas Young, Zurabi Zhvania
Backs (20): Josh Bassett, Michael Le Bourgeois, Malakai Fekitoa, Jimmy Gopperth, Juan de Jongh, Zach Kibirige, Rob Miller, Ryan Mills, Matteo Minozzi, Paolo Odogwu, Will Porter, Dan Robson, Callum Sirker, Will Simonds, Lima Sopoaga, Sam Spink, Jacob Umaga, Ben Vellacott, Marcus Watson, Sam Wolstenholme