Kurtley Beale’s instant impact and the impending arrival of Springbok superstar Willie le Roux can equip Wasps with the impetus they need to challenge Saracens’ hegemony of English rugby, reckons ambitious Red Rose prop Matt Mullan.
Wasps have built rapidly since Mullan’s arrival from Worcester in 2013, finishing seventh, sixth and third in the league and reaching the semi-finals of both the Premiership and Champions Cup last season before losing to Exeter and Saracens.
Double-winning Saracens have set the benchmark but with Wallaby World Cup hero Beale and Le Roux adding spice to an already tasty back division, Mullan believes Wasps have the strength-in-depth to take the Londoners’ crown.
Beale impressed on debut against Connacht last week and Mullan told The Rugby Paper: “It’s pretty evident that Kurtley’s an exceptional player and it’s good that attacking players like him and Willie le Roux are prepared to come here now.
“Ever since I turned up here, Dai Young has been all about improvement and there’s good depth across the whole squad. He’s wanted a squad with two equally good players in each position and we’re pretty much at that point now.
“We don’t look at it as us versus Saracens because there’s so far to go in the Premiership and Champions Cup, but we talk about improvement and last season we reached two semi-finals, so the next logical step is to reach a final.”
Of Beale’s impact, Mullan added: “I’m really pleased for him on an individual basis. It’s hard moving to a new club anyway, let alone one on the other side of the world, and to turn up injured as well means he’s had to work incredibly hard.
“It’s only when you play and train with someone that you fully integrate so the last two or three weeks with him have been really good. To score a try with almost his first touch was brilliant and the boys are desperate to see him do well.”
While Wasps’ electric backline takes centre stage, doughty loosehead Mullan, 29, right, has been quietly restating his England credentials since deputising for Joe Marler on the victorious tour of Australia, only to miss out during the autumn.
He could be forgiven for feeling miffed given Marler’s self-imposed exile, but said: “I enjoyed Australia, being part of those three Tests and making history there, but Eddie’s always made it clear that he’ll pick people based on form.
“I was named in the EPS but didn’t make any of the autumn matchday squads, so all I can do is take that on the chin and play better for Wasps.
“Every player wants to be involved with England but to do that you have to show Eddie what he wants to see. I’m still trying to improve and if you’re in a successful team playing in big games, you put yourself in the shop window.
“Wasps are pleased with what I’m doing and my first port of call is always to impress Dai because he’s the one picking the team here.”
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