Wasps cen­tre look­ing to fin­ish on a high and earn cen­tral role

The Rugby Paper - - News - ■ By NICK VERDIER

EL­LIOT Daly will use the com­ing matches to boost his bid for the Eng­land No.13 jersey, know­ing he must shine in the big do­mes­tic matches to prove he is the best op­tion in­ter­na­tion­ally.

Daly ad­mits he started to won­der whether he was ever go­ing to break onto the Test scene, hav­ing come into the Wasps team as a school­boy and selected ahead of Jonathan Joseph for Ge­orge Ford’s 2011 Eng­land U20 side, de­spite be­ing a year younger.

How­ever, af­ter switching be­tween 13 and 15 for a few sea­sons, he fi­nally broke into the Eng­land ranks last sea­son, pick­ing up five caps off the bench.

This sea­son, his sev­enth at the high­est level de­spite still be­ing just 24, saw him start all but one of Eng­land’s nine games since the sum­mer tour of Aus­tralia.

His eight starts came on the left wing but Daly still sees him­self as a cen­tre and is de­ter­mined to force the is­sue.

“Get­ting that first phone call from Ed­die Jones was amaz­ing,” Daly told The

Rugby Pa­per. “You have mo­ments of doubt when you’re not be­ing picked but you just have to know that when the mo­ment’s right you will be and that’s what hap­pened to me.

“I bounced around a cou­ple of po­si­tions un­til two sea­sons ago and it prob­a­bly didn’t help me. But as I get older I know where I can play and what I need to do to get to the next level. It’s down to ma­tu­rity.

“The Six Na­tions was un­be­liev­able. I just wanted to im­prove from last sea­son, so to be in­volved in ev­ery game was great and I just want to keep push­ing now.

“I still see my­self as a cen­tre so I try to get my hands on the ball as much as pos­si­ble – but I’ve got to re­mem­ber that I’m play­ing on the wing and get that bal­ance right.

“If I keep play­ing well at out­side cen­tre for Wasps, Eng­land might pick me there but I don’t re­ally mind where I play.

“JJ is a qual­ity cen­tre and he’s shown he’s a spe­cial tal­ent be­ing very con­sis­tent in what he does. It’s amaz­ing to see how many peo­ple have come through from that U20s squad.

“We talk about it some­times in camp and it makes things eas­ier when you get there be­cause you know most of the guys and you’ve played with them.”

Daly has parked his in­ter­na­tional am­bi­tions for now, giv­ing Wasps his full at­ten­tion as they chase a home semi-fi­nal and po­ten­tial Premier­ship glory for the first time since 2008.

They travel to bot­tom side Bris­tol to­day but, fol­low­ing their Cham­pi­ons Cup quar­ter-fi­nal de­feat at Le­in­ster two weeks ago, Daly is adamant they will give it their best to make sure they play their play-off game at the Ri­coh Arena this time.

He added: “We’ll be treat­ing ev­ery game as a Cup fi­nal.

“We’re top of the ta­ble but any slip up and we could drop to sec­ond and maybe even miss out on a home semi-fi­nal. We’re des­per­ate for that home semi, so to be sure of it we need to win the next three games.”

Af­ter the Euroepan low a fort­night ago, Daly is look­ing for a pos­i­tive fin­ish to the cam­paign.

“We’re very dis­ap­pointed by what hap­pened in Dublin but be­ing out of the Cham­pi­ons Cup does nar­row your mind. Hope­fully we can get that home semi-fi­nal and push on from there.

“We’ve got to cut the mis­takes down to go as far as we want to in the Premier­ship. We have a lot of tal­ented strike-run­ners in the back line and big ball car­ri­ers up front, but we have to get the bal­ance right be­tween tak­ing risks and forc­ing things.

“We have to back our skills and if we have to go one more phase to score then so be it.”

PIC­TURE: Getty Images

Com­ing of age: El­liot Daly in the thick of it against Northampton

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