Sackey ready to release his sting

Over the past years, what have very much been glory years, Wasps have enjoyed success on a domestic and European front, as well as boasting a side packed with internationals.

Now as they enter the knock-out stages of this years Heineken Cup with a tricky quarter-final against Leinster another of their rising international stars, Paul Sackey, was interviewed.

Sackey has worked hard on his game over recent years to finally earn his chance with England, although his international involvement has been cut short lately by a knee injury. Sackey plied his trade with Bedford at the start of his career but is now well established with London Wasps and is looking to work his way into Brian Ashton’s plans.

Before he gets ahead of himself though there is the crunch quarter-final, a game many think may be a step too far in this years tournament for Wasps. Since winning the Heineken Cup three years ago Wasps have struggled to recapture the form which brought them so much success.

Sackey, having been out with his knee injury, has been targeting this fixture as his return from injury and appreciates the intensity that such occasions produce.

“The Heineken Cup is just as, if not more, intense and physical as an international,” he said.

“If you cant handle playing in the Heineken Cup in the big games then you will never handle playing in the test arena. It is such a big increase in intensity.

“It is a big step up from playing in the Guinness Premiership but that’s what you strive for, those games that really push you.”

While there may be a handful of aging stars in the Wasps team there is also an exciting crop of young talent emerging at Adams Park. In Sackey’s eyes playing in such a tournament as the Heineken Cup at a relatively young age it can do nothing but develop you.

“It is a great tournament anyway but as a young player breaking into the first team if you get a taste of Heineken Cup action you just want more and more,” said Sackey.

“It pushes the boys to fight for their places and it is such a great learning curve for the guys coming up.”

It is the youngsters coming through the ranks that Sackey is concerned for though, as the injury toll rises throughout the country each season. Which brings into light the issue of central contracts and burn-out.

“The youth system in the top clubs in England is fantastic, just look at the homegrown talent that is coming through now,” said Sackey.

“We need young English players coming through and making a name for themselves, especially when you see so many overseas stars coming over.

“However I feel we play too much rugby at times, the body just cant take it. All you have to do is watch our training sessions at this stage of the season and see how tired the guys are getting.

“We need to find a balance as otherwise we get to the big games such as this weekend and are burnt out. Its ironic we are playing Leinster, as the Irish have a good system with their central contracts.

“If that was the case with us here in England I think we as players would benefit so much more, resulting in better rugby and more opportunity for young talent to emerge.

Sackey, albeit through injury, is in a lucky position in that he is coming back into the season at the business end feeling fresh and raring to go. His first goal is to win his place back in the Wasps side, not an easy task with the players they have.

After that, with it being World Cup year, Sackey is aiming on pushing his case for a spot in Brian Ashton’s final squad to go to France in September.

“Everyone, from childhood onwards, dreams of playing in a World Cup, you would be lying if you said you didn’t,” said Sackey.

“That is why I have taken my time with this injury and not rushed back. I want to be in the best possible shape between now and when Brian selects his squad so that I can really push my c

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