Jacob Umaga has received the backing of Wasps coach Lee Blackett after the young fly-half ‘struggled to sleep’ following his shaky display in the midweek loss to Sale Sharks.
The 22-year-old has been a shining light for Wasps in their five bonus point wins leading up to the 20-11 loss at the Ricoh Arena on Tuesday evening. With England head coach Eddie Jones in attendance, the talented fly-half endured a difficult match missing two penalty kicks to touch and gave away a penalty on half-time for a high tackle that AJ MacGinty kicked to give Steve Diamond’s side a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Lee Blackett, who suffered his first loss as permanent Wasps head coach in the encounter, revealed Umaga came to him the following day to discuss the game.
“Jacob is really mature for his age, he is someone who really cares massively,” Blackett said. “I spoke to him the morning after the game there was a couple of things he wanted to speak about. He struggled sleeping through the night, almost. I just love the passion in him, his drive for the team to win, he takes it personally when we don’t. So it’s great to see, hopefully Jacob and the team will bounce back and we will learn some lessons going forward.”
Throughout Wasps’ surge up the table, their success has been built upon the industry of Jack Willis, a backline that has been firing and also a pack that is now more frequently turning pressure into points – and Umaga has been key to that. His daring touchfinders have given Wasps the field position to go for gold.
Tuesday’s misses did prove costly but Blackett has backed his man to keep showing his adventure and bravery when kicking to touch.
“Jacob is a confident guy,” he added. “We had a conversation about a couple of touch finders he missed at the weekend. Each week we see how well he kicks to touch out of hand, I’d rather it be like that. We want him to be confident.
“We had a conversation, I said I’d rather you missed touch a couple of times going for the corner and take the easy option and kick to the 22. I want him to be aggressive in his mindset. That suits the team and it suits him.”