Wasps' next two games huge - Young

Wasps Rugby director Dai Young has stated his intent
Wasps Rugby director Dai Young has stated his intent

Dai Young has braced his Wasps team for "cup final" rugby when they continue to fight on domestic and European fronts over the next two months.

Reigning English champions Northampton are first up on Friday night when Aviva Premiership business resumes at Franklin's Gardens following a three-week break.

Wasps are currently three points adrift of the play-off zone with five league games left, but they currently occupy a top-six place that will guarantee European Champions Cup qualification next term.

Northampton apart, Leicester, Exeter, London Irish and London Welsh also feature on Wasps' domestic agenda, in addition to a Champions Cup quarter-final away against European title holders Toulon early next month.

"The next two games are massive for Wasps," rugby director Young said.

"You really don't find more physical teams than the clubs we are playing on back-to-back weekends - the defending English champions, Northampton, followed by the defending European Champions, Toulon.

"So there are two huge tests ahead of this young squad, but they are the kind of games you play rugby for - to test yourself against the very best.

"Every game from now until the end of the season feels like a cup final.

"Even in the league, every point gained is going to be hugely important, and every point lost could end up being important as well.

"We've got five Premiership games left - five games of huge significance. We are determined to get into the top six - that is the minimum standard for us and has been our target all season.

"If things go well for us, there is no reason why we can't push a little bit higher, but top six is the only thing we've talked about."

Young has decided to rest flanker James Haskell against Saints following his RBS 6 Nations campaign with England - Ashley Johnson, Thomas Young and Nathan Hughes forge Wasps' back row - while Alex Lozowski starts at fly-half in a team captained by prop Matt Mullan.

Northampton, though, parade their England forwards Dylan Hartley, Courtney Lawes and Tom Wood, while Wales wing George North also starts following last weekend's pulsating final day of Six Nations action.

Young added: "It is plain to see Northampton's strengths, so we know what we are up against this week.

"Their scrum is up there with the best in Europe, and they've scored more driving lineout tries than any other team in the Premiership this season.

"They were champions last season and they're out in front this season, so they are the team for all of us to chase.

"You are not going to beat Northampton by sitting back and hoping they make mistakes that you can capitalise on. You've really got to take the game to them."

Wasps, meanwhile, have announced the appointment of Lee Blackett as their new backs coach for next season.

The 32-year-old will move to the Premiership from Championship club Rotherham, where he is currently head coach.

He will replace former Wales fly-half Stephen Jones, who is returning to the Llanelli-based Scarlets in a coaching capacity.

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