Ricoh move will see Wasps keep stars, insists Dai

Ross McLean
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Joe Launchbury’s current Wasps contract expires at the end of the season and Saracens have been linked with the England lock
FORWARD-THINKING Wasps boss Dai Young is confident the club’s controversial move to Coventry’s Ricoh Arena will keep stars such as England lock Joe Launchbury away from the clutches of more successful rivals.

The traditionally London-based outfit have confirmed the first match at their new home, which is situated 82 miles north of their current High Wycombe base, will be the Premiership clash with London Irish on Sunday 21 December.

Launchbury’s current contract expires at the end of the season and Young believes the move to Coventry, which is centred on securing the club’s financial future, can ward off potential suitors, with Saracens said to be circling.

“We’d be surprised and disappointed if he leaves, but there are no guarantees in life,” said Young. “We had to demonstrate to Joe this is the right place for him to stay, first and foremost.

“We had to have a competitive squad, enough players in his position so he won’t be overplayed. We’ve got to have ambition as a club, playing in the top tournament.

“And the last thing really was we had to be sustainable, not relying on the generosity of one person. So we’ve pretty much ticked all the boxes.”

Wasps’ dire financial position saw them perilously close to administration last year before a takeover by businessman Derek Richardson saved the day, although the club continue to leak £3m a season playing at Adams Park, the home of Wycombe Wanderers.

And despite a new-found optimism about the future direction of the club, Young remains realistic about the chances of convincing all his principal players to stay but is hopeful Launchbury will sign a new deal in the coming weeks.

“It doesn’t mean to sat that Joe or all our best players are going to stay but, certainly from my point of view, I think the club have done as much as they could to keep our best players, Joe being one of them,” added Young.

“It was never planned to talk until the middle of October, so over the couple of weeks we’ll start talking and we should have a real steer by the end of October whether it’s going to be positive or negative.

“Joe has been the backbone of the team, he helped keep it afloat so it would be really nice to see him achieve something here.”