Wasps coach Lee Blackett shelves top-four talk

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Wasps head coach Lee Blackett has dismissed all talk of a top-four finish in the Gallagher Premiership this season.

Three straight wins before the campaign was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic propelled Wasps to within two points of the play-off places.

The Premiership resumes over the weekend of August 14-16 and Blackett’s side take on fourth-placed Northampton at Franklin’s Gardens on the Sunday.

“Hopefully we’ll get enough points to put us there or thereabouts, but you just can’t lose sight of our next game at Northampton,” Blackett said.

“There is a lot to happen before we start talking about top four. Anything can happen, especially in the fixture list that’s coming up.”

Premiership clubs must squeeze in their nine remaining games by October 4 when the 2019-20 season is scheduled to finish.

“We’ve spoken this week actually about it and our only target is trying to beat Northampton,” Blackett said.

“I think you can get too caught up in it. From a coach’s point of view we talk about things in the long term, the planning has been massive in this period, but I don’t think the players need to know all that.

“They need to trust that we’re doing all our planning, but we’ve got to focus on the next game, that’s our mentality.

“Our long-term goal is to beat Northampton and we’ll go from there. After that we’ll move on to Worcester.”

Wasps beat Saracens, London Irish and Gloucester in their last three matches and Blackett, placed in temporary charge following director of rugby Dai Young’s departure in February, was made permanent head coach in April.

The former Leeds and Rotherham centre feels his decision to hand his players more control over how the team is run has been vindicated.

“If you give them more freedom to lead you’ll see how many more leaders there are,” Blackett added.

“We have the leaders, we just need to give them the opportunity to lead.

“At the same time it’s just getting the balance right between player power and the coaches because at times it still needs to be coach-led.”

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