Aviva Premiership: Wasps seven sign new contracts
Ashley Johnson, Joe Simpson, Matt Mullan and Elliott Daly are among the latest players to recommit to Ricoh Arena outfit
Wasps have confirmed another seven contract extensions ahead of the 2015/16 Aviva Premiership season.
Ashley Johnson, Elliot Daly, Matt Mullan and Joe Simpson are the latest established names to commit to the Ricoh Arena outfit after helping them to a first top-six finish since 2009.
I wouldn’t swap these guys for any other player in their position in the Aviva Premiership and I really hope they get the call-ups to their international squads that their performances this season deserve.
Young players Sam Jones, Thomas Young and Will Rowlands have also signed new deals, taking the total number of players committing their future to the club to 17 with Leinster outside-half Jimmy Gopperth, Gloucester scrum-half Dan Robson and All Blacks winger Frank Halai all joining the club in the summer.
Wasps director of rugby Dai Young believes the club now has a strong core player pool in addition to its significant off-field improvements over the last 12 months following their relocation from High Wycombe to Coventry.
“We are over the moon that each of these players has re-committed to the club,” Young said.
“Ashley, Elliot, Joe and Matt have been absolutely outstanding for Wasps all season, as is reflected in numerous award nominations and they have played a huge part in helping to drive this club up the table to a top six finish for European qualification.
“I wouldn’t swap these guys for any other player in their position in the Aviva Premiership and I really hope they get the call-ups to their international squads that their performances this season deserve.
“We now have a really strong core to the squad, which we can continue to build on, and I’m excited to see how much further these players will develop, having already taken huge strides forward this season.”
Back-row forward Johnson, who can also play hooker, admits it was an easy decision to commit his future to the club.
The former Springbok also believes that the club is moving in the right direction and is capable of winning silverware as they continue to develop.
“When I was offered a new contract, it was a no brainer really,” Johnson said.
“I am loving playing for Wasps. Seeing how far the club has come over the past few months and the ambition Wasps has shown on and off the field, I think we all feel we are building something special and I really want to be part of that.
“We have so many talented young guys and we’re moving in the direction.
“It won’t come overnight, but I really believe with the squad we have, and with a number of players re-signing and sticking together, we can develop into a squad which will win silverware.
“While I’ve loved being part of an incredible back row, I’ve also been really fortunate to have coaches like Dai who are willing to help guide me through the transition to hooker, which I’m also excited to play in the long-term.”
Simpson, 26, who is in line to be included in England’s Rugby World Cup training squad, has amassed over 150 appearances for the club since graduating from the Wasps Academy and has been one of the club’s form players this season, picking up the Aviva Premiership player of the month award for April.
“I’m delighted to have committed my long-term future and the prime of my career to Wasps, the club I supported as a youngster growing up,” Simpson said.
“It’s been my second home really for the last 10 years.
“It’s an exciting time for me personally. I feel I am playing the best rugby of my life and I feel Wasps are playing the most exciting rugby I can remember since I’ve been a member of the first team.
“We made some great signings last season and have some more coming for next season. We’ve also kept the majority of our young squad together, who are pushing forward.
“While we achieved our target of top six, in some ways we feel we had the potential to achieve more, and that’s what we will focus on next season, as we keep growing as a team.”
Wasps had already confirmed new contracts for captain James Haskell, lock Joe Launchbury, outside-half Ruaridh Jackson, number eight Nathan Highes and hooker Carlo Festuccia.