Sopoaga ‘a vic­tim of team’s in­juries’

Nelson Mail - - Sport -

Lima Sopoaga’s club coach ex­pects the ex-All Black to start thriv­ing once Wasps get their in­jured back­line stars back.

Sopoaga – re­port­edly on up to $1 mil­lion a year – has failed to make a con­sis­tent im­pact since join­ing the English Premier­ship club last Septem­ber, and was sin­binned in yes­ter­day’s Euro­pean Cham­pi­ons Cup pool match against Bath af­ter no-arms tackle on Bath’s Kiwi util­ity back Jack­son Wil­li­son.

But Wasps’ di­rec­tor of rugby Dai Young is stay­ing loyal to his high-profile re­cruit, who kicked eight points in the 18-16 loss to Bath.

‘‘We al­ways knew Lima would take a bit of time to set­tle in and you have to feel a bit sorry for him be­cause he’s been try­ing to set­tle with half the team he ex­pected to be around him be­ing unavail­able,’’ Young said be­fore the Bath match.

Wasps have had Spring­boks full­back Wil­lie le Roux, one-time Eng­land half­back Dan Rob­son and Kiwi vet­eran Jimmy Gop­perth out with in­juries, while for­mer Eng­land wing Chris­tian Wade quit to pur­sue an Amer­i­can foot­ball ca­reer.

‘‘Last sea­son our at­tack­ing prow­ess was pretty special with Dan Rob­son, Jimmy Gop­perth, Wil­lie Le Roux and Wadey around Danny Cipri­ani, but we’ve had pretty much none of them play­ing so it’s been hard to repli­cate that,’’ Young said.

‘‘That’s put more pres­sure on Lima but we know he’s a qual­ity player and we also know that, like most play­ers from the south­ern hemi­sphere, you’re prob­a­bly not go­ing to get the best out of them in their first sea­son in Eng­land.’’

Sopoaga joined Wasps on a three-year deal, es­ti­mated to be worth £500,000 to £600,000 (NZ$1.13m) per sea­son.

Guardian rugby writer, Paul Rees, warned re­cently that sign­ing an All Black was not nec­es­sar­ily a guar­an­tee of im­me­di­ate suc­cess for Euro­pean clubs.

Mean­while, Wasps have just re­leased for­mer Welling­ton, Manawatu¯ and New Zealand Ma¯ori wing Am­brose Cur­tis to French sec­ond tier club Vannes. Cur­tis, 26, played just one game for Wasps in a Premier­ship Cup match last Novem­ber.

Lima Sopoaga has found the go­ing tough in his first year with Wasps.

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