Match Reaction - Dai Young Post Leicester Tigers

Following the bonus point win against Leicester Tigers at the Ricoh Arena, Wasps’ Director of Rugby Dai Young was clearly proud of the efforts of his players and the progress the squad has made over the past year:

“If you turn the clock back almost 12 months, the Tigers were too physical for us and completely knocked us out of our stride, so we knew coming into the game today that first and foremost, you have to earn the right to play.

“I think everybody’s seen from us for most of the season that we want to play exciting, high-tempo rugby - ball-in-hand rugby, but you have to earn that right because obviously teams aren’t going to allow you to play that type of rugby.

“Last week against Gloucester we didn’t quite earn that right, but today we did. Your set piece has to function to give you that platform to play. You have to win the battle of the gainline by your ball carriers getting you on the front foot.

“Defensively, I thought we did a good job of not allowing them to get on the front foot too much. Certainly for the first 50 minutes we were in control of those areas, which allowed us to play the kind of rugby that we want to play.

“I was still a little bit nervous with 25 minutes to go, if I’m honest, when they were only 12 points behind us because you know how strong characters the Tigers are and they were certainly looking to try to spoil the party, so I thought Nathan Hughes’ try was really important for us to put that bit of distance between us and to make us feel a little bit more comfortable.

As well as scoring some sensational tries, Young was equally as impressed with Wasps’ commitment and physicality in defence. Asked to comment on Dan Robson’s contribution in that area, he said:

“I thought Dan Robson's defence was outstanding. I think everybody realises what tempo he brings into the game but I thought he also kicked really well today on occasions when we weren’t quite going anywhere, so we kicked on our terms. Jimmy was excellent as well, before he was forced to go off with an eye injury.

"I’m really pleased with all the guys we've brought in. Charles Piutau has just shown his class week after week. Frank Halai as well. He hadn’t had the benefit of a pre-season so he didn’t come into the season fully fit, but he’s really got himself going the last couple of weeks.

“Big Piutau as well - Siale Piutau - has done really well for us! He perhaps doesn’t do the flashy things, but what he does, he does really well. His defence is outstanding, his communication around the game is second to none and he’s a fantastic loop player with the pace.

“Obviously people can see what George (Smith) does on the field, but around the club his presence is also important. He doesn’t say a lot, but what he says normally makes a lot of sense and he is always straight to the point and helpful. He’s been fantastic for all of our young back rowers, just rubbing shoulders with him in training and obviously having the pleasure of playing with him is something special. He’s been fantastic for us.

“But overall it was a big squad effort today. I said to the squad about eight or nine weeks ago, it’s not going to be 15 that’s going to get us to, hopefully, where we’d like to be - it’s the full squad. I’ve tried my best to utilise and rotate the squad, while still having some consistency in selection, but you need to be there pushing in the business end of the season and not dying away. Hopefully we’ll be there in the business end of the season, with everybody firing.

"Overall it was a really good team performance and I’m really pleased. You don’t get to beat the Tigers that often, so when you do you’ve got to enjoy it."

Asked for an update on George Smith's injury after he had to leave the field having taken a hefty knock, Young said:

“George had a head knock but he was pretty insistent on walking off the field, as you could see. He’s fine now and is in the changing rooms talking and there are no issues, but he did have a significant head knock so we will make sure he goes through all the right protocols, which is important, and there’s no time that can be put on that. There’s a strict procedure that you have to follow and it’s a staged procedure where you have to tick each box off as you go along. We couldn’t say how long he’s going to be out and certainly from our point of view, he’s ready when he’s ready, but he’s fine at this moment in time."