Christian Wade happy to bide his time in pursuit of England spot

London Wasps wing Christian Wade says he is happy to bide his time in his pursuit of an England place

By Gareth Llewellyn
England and London Wasps wing Christian Wade Photo: Handout

London Wasps wing Christian Wade has insisted he is happy to bide his time as he looks to return after a lengthy spell on the sidelines.

The 22-year-old has featured twice for England’s senior side against the Barbarians, but the Slough-born speedster has won just one full cap for England when he played 80 minutes on last summer’s tour of Argentina.

Injuries have thwarted plans for him to become a mainstay in Stuart Lancaster’s plans.

I would love to be on the tour, really love it, but in some ways it is out of my hands

Christian Wade

His try-scoring record at Wasps is an impressive 28 from 45 league games, with five in eight matches this season.

It’s an impressive haul in a competitive league and rightly has Wade pencilled in for international action – he may lack the height of many of his team-mates in the modern game, but his strength and defensive work have won him plaudits as well as his attacking prowess.

A week after making his debut in Salta, Wade was called up to the British and Irish Lions tour as injury cover.

But was ruled out of the autumn internationals with a hamstring injury before damaging ligaments in his left foot in November, sidelining him for England’s Six Nations campaign earlier this year.

With the Rugby World Cup heading to England in 2015, Wade still has ambitions on becoming a regular for his country, but has seen youngsters Jonny May (Gloucester) and Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs) impress in the famous white jersey in his absence.

“It is slow progress,” Wade said in the the Times. “There’s no real rush to come back because of the severity of the injury.

“It has been tough, especially when you have seen other young guys getting their chance, but I have tried to use it as a blessing in disguise to work on my strength.

And the lengthy period out of action could cost Wade a place on England’s summer tour to New Zealand with Wasps down to just three matches left in this season’s Aviva Premiership campaign and an Amlin Challenge Cup semi-final against Bath.

But last season’s leading try-scorer in English rugby and the Rugby Players’ Association Player of the Year understands the need to be patient as he recovers.

“You have seen players come back too soon and cause further damage,” he added. “It will only be right for the players to have game time before they go out.

“Especially for someone like me. I have not played for six months and it will be seven months by the time the tour comes around.

“You want to test yourself against the best and they are No 1 in the world for a reason. It is not just about scoring tries, but showing you have an all-court game.

“People may look at my size as an opportunity for them to take advantage, but I see that as an opportunity to show what I can do defensively.

“I would love to be on the tour, really love it, but in some ways it is out of my hands.

“New Zealand is a massive tour, but there are 15 games to the World Cup and I don’t want to jeopardise my chances for that or my long-term career.”

For Wade and other players involved on the Lions tour last summer, injury lay-offs have blighted their progress this season, highlighted by Welsh and English players who have spent significant time out.

Wales stalwarts Sam Warburton and Gethin Jenkins were notable absentees for the Cardiff Blues, with centres Jamie Roberts and Jonathan Davies also absent.

Of England’s contingency involved in a gruelling campaign last year, forwards Alex Corbisiero, Dan Cole and Geoff Parling have also been long-term casualties as well as Manu Tuilagi, and Wade admits the amount of playing time has been an issue.

“By the time I got back, in the middle of July, I had three weeks off and then I was back into training,” he said. “Three weeks out of a year playing rugby is probably not anywhere near enough.

“It’s happened to a lot of the other Lions guys, so there’s obviously a trend there. Personally, when I have had injuries is when I have needed a rest.”

If Wade can overcome his injuries and remain fit, his pace and clinical finishing would add extra dimensions to an already powerful backline which will undoubtedly include Leicester centre Tuilagi—who has sparkled since his return for his club in March—and Harlequins full-back Mike Brown, whose running was so destructive in the Six Nations.

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