Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Daunting Decider for Dallaglio

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Daunting Decider for Dallaglio

Article excerpt

Byline: MARK BALDWIN

IT has been quite a week at London Wasps, what with new contracts and new England captains being announced, but nothing that has happened at the club all season compares with the stakes being played for at Perpignan on Sunday.

Lawrence Dallaglio, in his first outing as Martin Johnson's anointed successor, could face no tougher a task than to go to one of the bearpits of French rugby knowing that only a win will guarantee Wasps a place in the last eight of the Heineken Cup.

Dallaglio, however, leads a team high on confidence after their recent away win at Celtic Warriors, and further boosted in these past seven days not just by his reappointment to the England captaincy but also by the new two-year club contracts signed by himself, Joe Worsley, Fraser Waters and Stuart Abbott.

England centre Abbott is out for a month with more ankle trouble, but Wasps have no other major injury absentees and director of rugby Warren Gatland hopes to reap the rewards after giving seven of his most senior players - including Dallaglio - last weekend off.

Craig Dowd, Simon Shaw, Rob Howley, Josh Lewsey and Waters are the others who are back in Sunday's starting line-up, with Phil Greening sure to come off the bench at some stage.

Gatland said: "We let ourselves down a few weeks ago by losing at home to Celtic Warriors, but we then gave ourselves a good chance of qualifying by going back to their place the following week and getting the win we had to get.

"Now, though, we are left with going to Perpignan, which is always a very difficult place for away teams.

"But we are not afraid of these sort of challenges, and if we have ambitions of winning the Heineken Cup - which we have - then perhaps you have to go away from home and win matches like this.

"We have performed well in France before, at Begles and at Stade Francais, so I am hoping for another good performance from us. …

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