Three hundred days ago, Lee Blackett started his first full day as Wasps head coach in the wake of Dai Young’s confirmed departure.
It was CoventryLive that broke the news of the former director of rugby’s shock exit earlier this year which was officially confirmed on February 18.
A return of three consecutive victories before the Covid-19 enforced break in the 2019/20 season saw Blackett’s ‘interim’ tag replaced with a permanent role in April.
Since Young’s confirmed exit, Blackett has guided Wasps to 14 wins in 18 games with 11 of those matches coming in the congested period between mid-August and October when last season restarted.
“It’s been enjoyable,” said Blackett. “It has been quite intense. It was probably easier during lockdown because we got ourselves in such great shape, we were able to rotate the squad.
“I know games were coming thick and fast but actually, a conversation I had the other day with Dan Robson, actually during that period he week on week, a lot of the midweek games he didn’t play, so a lot of the squad had normal turnarounds. We managed the squad and everyone was playing and it was pretty easy.”
While Wasps managed to avoid too many serious injuries during the concluding months of last term, they have been heavily hit in the early chapters of this season with up to 17 players unavailable for the weekend’s trip to the Dragons due to injuries and illness.
There have also been fewer games to rotate players and give more players matchday minutes but the injury situation has presented chances for some members of the squad. Most notably, teenage academy fly-half Charlie Atkinson earned his first Wasps start and made his European debut against the Dragons – as did Alfie Barbeary and Paolo Odogwu.
“Now it’s a little more difficult,” he said. “We had five training sessions into the first game, trying to ease our way in. We’ve picked up a fair few knocks along the way and now there’s challenges of managing this squad.
“At the moment we are enjoying the challenge, we are enjoying seeing some young players get a lot of experience. The likes of Charlie at the weekend, it was great to see someone like that and give those guys an opportunity, and hopefully in the long run we should be stronger through it.”
Summarising his time in the top job so far, he added: “In terms of the overall 300 days, I’ve enjoyed it, I’ve really enjoyed the challenge of it, and we’ve had some great occasions, it’s just a shame the crowd hasn’t been there to see a lot of them.”