Christian Wade drumming up enthusiasm for Wasps revival


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The Independent Online

A handy drummer in his spare time, Christian Wade is making a big noise in the Aviva Premiership once again after evoking memories of Jason Robinson at Twickenham last weekend.

The 21-year-old scored two blistering tries and gifted a third to Tom Varndell as Wasps shocked Harlequins by sprinting into a 40-13 lead after 56 minutes. In the end, Wasps' season opened on a bum note as the reigning champions staged the greatest ever Premiership comeback to win 42-40. But Dai Young's new-look team had done enough to prove the dark days of last season's relegation battle are over.

Wasps have attempted to reinvent themselves over the summer, making some key signings and developing a new, more expansive game plan.

In Wade they have a natural finisher. Last year, despite Wasps' travails, he scored nine tries in 15 Premiership games to earn a place on England's summer tour of South Africa. And in a season that will end with the British and Irish Lions returning to Australia, it did not go unnoticed that Wade's in-and-out finish for his second try against Harlequins was straight out of the Robinson locker.

Robinson himself pulled off a similarly electric move to score for the Lions against the Wallabies in the first Test of 2001.

"Jason Robinson is one of my idols, someone I look up to – Shane Williams as well," said Wade, who sometimes makes a guest appearance in his brother's Motown band.

"They are the same stature as me and players I try to base the structure of my game around, looking at how they work around the pitch and how they finish.

"The England tour was a reward for the season I had last year. It gave me the confidence to know I was in the top tier of players as a wing. Coming into this season I know I have a lot of stuff to work on. This is another big year for me to show what I can do. This is my second season in the Wasps first team and I don't want to let my performance or my form slide."

It has not all been pats on the back for Wade. He was given a dressing down by Young and his team-mates for passing to Varndell after crossing the try-line. "All the boys are like, 'Don't do that again!' I just said sorry to the guys," Wade said.

The bulk of Wade's pre-season training was focused on defence and the breakdown – "my weaknesses from last season" – and he has started work with new signing Stephen Jones on his kicking.

Wasps have also recruited England internationals James Haskell and Tom Palmer, the Italian centre Andrea Masi and highly-rated South African Ashley Johnson.

Wade and Wasps head to Bath today determined to build on that first 56 minutes at Twickenham, when Harlequins could not live with their pace and intensity.

"Last season was a shocker. This year we are looking to rebuild as a squad," Wade said. "The mighty Wasps, the glory days, and last season are all in the past. We are now trying to make a name for ourselves as a new team.

"With new players coming in, we are working hard on trying to change the way we have played. We are looking to play wider and play with the ball in hand.

"When a turnover comes we are looking to shift it and that is one of our strengths, with the personnel we have in our team. We need to work on that last 20 minutes and make sure we can play rugby for the whole 80 or 85 minutes."

Bath have attacking threats of their own in Tom Biggs and former rugby league man Kyle Eastmond – and they will be anxious to employ them after relying on the boot of fly-half Olly Barkley to beat Worcester last weekend.