Wasps take on Northampton in a return to Aviva Premiership action on Saturday at Adams Park (15.15)
James Haskell won his 50th cap in the final game of the 6 Nations against Wales, and he says despite the disappointment of the loss, it was a proud moment.
“When you start out your career, getting one cap is a huge honour and so to get to 50 is massive for me. It was a frustrating end to the tournament and on a personal note even more so as that’s twice in my career a Grand Slam has slipped away. However I think that the atmosphere that Stuart Lancaster has created is great and we are heading in the right direction with lots of young talent coming through. I am almost 28 but I hope there are a few years ahead of me at international level as this is a side with a lot of potential. There are so many guys coming through in the back row so the competition is fierce. The important thing when you come back to your Club is that you have to get straight back into it”
Looking ahead to Northampton Haskell added.
“I am happy to be back and preparing for the game on Saturday. I got a bit of banter from Dai Young of course when I got back, but it’s good be amongst it again. Northampton have huge aspirations and forwards wise they are outstanding so we need to make sure we bring our A game up front if we want to get back winning.”
Joe Launchbury started every 6 Nations game and the 21-year-old says he has soaked up huge experience to bring back to Wasps.
“It is a long tournament and it’s mentally draining with the turnaround you get. It’s nice to be back at Wasps with a bit more of a regular life and crack on here now even though I hugely enjoyed being part of the England set up. It’s a great environment and in large parts of the tournament we were able to show that we were thriving on that, but of course we are bitterly disappointed with how it ended up. We have to remember that pain and remember how it felt to watch Wales lift the Championship in front of us. We need to use it to get better.”
Launchbury is relishing getting back to club action.
“It feels like a long time since I was here so I’m delighted to be back. I was a bit ill for a few days when the tournament ended so I had a few long sleeps and had a few days to recover but I am raring to go now again. It is a big challenge for us, up front this weekend. Northampton have some huge ball carriers so we need to impose ourselves physically. The games we have left are challenging but it’s a really exciting time and we’re not shying away from it. We want to be in the knock out stages of major competitions and it is up to us to take these next few weeks by the throat and take what we can out of it.”
Andrea Masi was one of the stars of Italy’s 6 Nations campaign, also returning to Wasps in the middle of the tournament.
“I am tired because there were so many games in the last few weeks but it is always a pleasure to come back here and play for Wasps. The next few games are hugely important for us and I want to be part of all of them and take a break when the season ends.”
On Italy’s overall tournament, Masi is taking plenty of positives, while playing down his nomination for 6 Nations Player of the Tournament.
“We finished the tournament well with the win over Ireland and overall I think we played our best rugby ever at times in the 6 Nations and that’s important as we are now really building something for the next World Cup. The game against England was disappointing that we didn’t win it and we needed a bit more belief but we were very competitive against one of the best sides in the world which we need to take positives from. Being nominated for that award is nice but I don’t feel I deserve to be in that category. There are so many players in Wales who deserve that much more than me.”