Club-by-club guide: London Wasps

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The Independent Online

Director of Rugby: Ian McGeechan

Captain: Raphael Ibanez

IN

Serge Betsen (Biarritz) Mark Robinson (Northampton)

OUT

Lawrence Dallaglio (retired), Simon Amor (London Scottish), Fraser Waters (Treviso), James Buckland (London Irish), Mark McMillan (Glasgow), David Doherty (Sale)

First five games

Sep 6 London Irish (Twickenham)

Sep 14 Worcester Warriors (H)

Sep 20 Northampton Saints (A)

Sep 26 Leicester Tigers (A)

Oct 1 Bath Rugby (H)

Lessons from last season

Was anybody really surprised that Wasps began to buzz just in time to reach the play-offs? Once they were there, their belligerent defence and merciless eye for a weakness in opposing defences brought them another Premiership crown, even coping with the loss of Danny Cipriani in the semi-final. This will be the first full season in which Shaun Edwards’ dual role as both Wasps and Wales defence coach is tested, and Ian McGeechan has the Lions to think about. They have lost Cipriani until at least November and there is no more Dallaglio to haul them out of the brown stuff. This season could be a true test of what the champions are made of.

Strengths

Lawrence Dallaglio may have gone but the Wasps back row still looks a formidable unit. Whether James Haskell (right) moves to No.8 in Dallaglio’s absence and the incoming Serge Betsen plays at No.6, or whether we see a bit more of the young Hugo Ellis this season, those three allied to Tom Rees (left), who is fast earning a reputation as a world class No.7, will be hard to better.

Weaknesses

The lineout has never been very reliable, so perhaps the ELVs will work in their favour. They might also be light in the backs with Cipriani missing and Fraser Waters gone. It will be down to Riki Flutey and Dominic Waldouck to supply Paul Sackey and co with the bullets.

Player to watch

Dominic Waldouck is not only Danny Cipriani’s best mate, he shares a big dollop of his pal’s ability as well. More game time for the youngster this year could bring him into England contention.

Did you know?

Wasps forfeited their right to be founder members of the RFU when they went to the wrong pub the day the union was formed.

Prediction

Notoriously slow starters, a repeat of last season’s heroics is a tall order.

5th

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