Tough pre-season perfect for Wasps

Wasps’ tough-looking pre-season schedule will be the perfect test of how well the black-and-golds will respond to their agonising loss to Exeter Chiefs in May’s Premiership Final.

The Coventry side make an August visit to Ulster and also host former Pro12 champions Connacht at the Ricoh Arena as they prepare for the 2017-2018 season.

Stern opposition will be provided by the Irish heavyweights and is the perfect way for boss Dai Young to assess how his troops can bounce back following the disappointing loss at Twickenham.

The August 17 visit to Belfast has the added ingredient of Ulster, who finished fifth in Pro12 last season, and Premiership table-toppers Wasps being drawn in the same European Champions Cup group.

Young will also send a side to the annual Singha Rugby Sevens tournament on July 28 and 29, this year held at Northampton Saints’ Franklin’s Gardens, after winning last year’s event.

Wasps are looking to repeat Exeter’s efforts of last season after themselves losing out to Saracens in the 2015 Premiership Final.

Rob Baxter’s men had a mixed start before going on an impressive 17-match unbeaten run to claim the title and Young has made several additions in an attempt to emulate their success.

The former British and Irish Lion has recently added Gloucester prop Paul Doran-Jones and highly-rated Cambridge youngster David Langley to a forward pack which was considered a relative weakness in a strong season for Wasps.

Young has earlier bolstered his back-line options with the signing of Fijian centre Gabiriele Lovobalavu whilst rapid winger Marcus Watson will provide more competition on the wing after his move from Newcastle.

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