LONDON Wasps’ flying wing Christian Wade hopes his memorable summer can carry over into the new Aviva Premiership Rugby campaign.
Wasps looked on course to secure a return to the Heineken Cup last season only for defeats in their final seven games to see them slip to eighth. And while this was a bitter pill to swallow Wade had the perfect remedy as he travelled to South America with England, making his Red Rose Test debut against Argentina.
Things would get even better for the 22-year-old as just 18 days later he was running out for the British and Irish Lions after injuries prompted a late call-up.
Wade’s involvement in the final warm-up game didn’t lead to Test action but he is adamant he can transfer the feel-good factor to domestic games – starting against Harlequins in Saturday’s London Double Header at Twickenham.
“We were over in Argentina and the Lions games were on repeat so we watched them all and the boys were in great form,” he said. “I never expected that I would get a call-up and I didn’t have a lot of time to get my head around it. It was a great experience for the time that I was there.
“The team is full of guys who have had great careers like Brian O’Driscoll and Paul O’Connell so you don’t really know what to expect but they were welcoming and friendly and you’re there to do a job for them.
“The standout memory for me was Brian O’Driscoll’s speech he gave before one of our training sessions before the second Test. He explained how big a game it was and he’d been there 12 years ago and it was a massive tour for the Lions. I picked up a lot from the older guys: the preparation the boys put in, the analysis and attention to detail, and how much work they put in to it.”
Saturday’s fixture is a repeat of last season’s opening match, which Wasps lost 42-40 despite leading 40-13, and Wade is determined not to let lightning strike twice. “Last year was disappointing,” he added. “This year we’ll be looking to hit that game hard and hopefully come away with a win.”
The London Double Header returns to Twickenham on 7 September with two crucial Aviva Premiership Rugby matches: London Irish v Saracens followed by London Wasps v Harlequins. Tickets from ticketmaster.co.uk