Aviva Premiership: James Downey to stay at Wasps for 2015/16
Brendan Macken, Jamie Stevenson and Tom Bristow will also head to the Ricoh Arena as Dai Young builds depth for busy season
Wasps have confirmed that James Downey will remain at the club next season as well three new signings for the 2015/16 campaign.
I have really enjoyed playing in what is a very exciting backline and, with a few new faces next season, I can’t wait to be involved.
Despite joining Guinness PRO12 semi-finalists Glasgow Warriors at the start of the season on a two-year deal, the former Northampton Saints and Munster centre failed to settle in Scotland and was sent to Coventry on loan until the end of the season as injury cover.
The much-travelled back, 34, admitted he is delighted to remain at the club after making six Aviva Premiership appearances towards the back end of the season to help the club to a top six finish securing their place in next season’s European Champions Cup.
“It’s a really exciting time for the club and I’m really looking forward to playing at the Ricoh next year in front of the Wasps fans again,” Downey said.
“It has been a great season for the team and the building blocks are in place for us to really kick on next year.
“I have really enjoyed playing in what is a very exciting backline and, with a few new faces next season, I can’t wait to be involved.
“It will be a very strong group and that’s what you want to be a part of. I’m really looking forward to it and things are only going to get better.
“Things are moving up at a fast pace and you want to be part of that.”
The other new signings to be unveiled by Wasps include Leinster back Brendan Macken (pictured above).
The 24-year-old former Ireland U20 international and Emerging Ireland centre, who finished the season on loan at Gloucester after five appearances for his Irish province before Christmas, will join Leinster outside-half Jimmy Gopperth in making the move to Coventry this summer to add further depth to their backline.
“I’m delighted to sign for Wasps,” Macken said.
“They’re a massive club in England and their reputation is getting better and better on an off the pitch, and I just hope I can contribute in some way.
“I hope to get as much experience as I can and will try to maximise any opportunities I have.
“Wasps have some really talented players, particularly in the centres. I’ve played against Elliot Daly in the past and was really impressed with Alapati Leiua against Leinster at the RDS this season.
“There are also really talented guys behind them as well. I’m looking forward to being part of the Wasps set-up, working hard and contributing as best I can to help the team continue to improve.”
Director of rugby Dai Young has also picked up a pair of promising 23-year-olds in Scotland A scrum-half Jamie Stevenson from London Scottish and loosehead prop Tom Bristow from Leicester Tigers.
We have three talented, young players coming in in Brendan Macken, Tom Bristow and Jamie Stevenson, who I believe will fit really well into the squad.
The news comes just days after Wasps confirmed that seven current squad players have committed their future to the club, including Ashley Johnson and Elliot Daly.
Young believes that Wasps are building a squad capable of competing in the Premiership and Europe’s top competition in what will be a frenetic season once the new season gets under way at the conclusion of the Rugby World Cup in October, and there are further targets on the radar ahead of pre-season.
“As everyone knows, the depth of your squad is extremely important,” Young said.
“You need high-quality cover for injuries and to be able to rest players when they need it during the year, managing the squad to arrive at the business end of the season in the best shape possible.
“We have three talented, young players coming in in Brendan Macken, Tom Bristow and Jamie Stevenson, who I believe will fit really well into the squad.
“I’m also pleased that James Downey will be staying next season – his experience at the top level has been really beneficial since he joined and you know he will always produce a quality performance in midfield.
“I am really pleased with our recruitment to date. We already have a very strong nucleus to the squad of young home-grown talent, who have gone from strength to strength this season and who have re-committed to the club.
“We have been able to complement that core group with experienced players such as Bradley Davies and Alapati Leiua this season and next season will do the same through Jimmy Gopperth.
“Add to that the exciting up-and-coming talent we have joining, in England Saxons scrum-half Dan Robson and All Black Frank Halai, and I think we will be in a good place next season.”