Gloucester Rugby: 'Halting Wasps' Joe is key to victory'
SHUT speed king scrum-half Joe Simpson down at source tomorrow and Gloucester can frustrate Wasps' whippet-quick widemen, believes Dan Robson.
Gloucester half-back Robson expects a serious test against slippery customer Simpson at Adams Park in tomorrow's pivotal Premiership clash (kick-off 1pm).
Sniping Simpson will try to exploit gaps around the fringes to dart in behind Gloucester's frontline – and Robson knows that provides chances for arch finishers Christian Wade and Tom Varndell.
The clinical wings dominate the Wasps and Premiership scoring charts.
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Stoke-born Hartpury College graduate Robson reckons most of their opportunities owe their starting point to 24-year-old Simpson.
The 20-year-old knows it is his job to keep Simpson quiet – to hand Nigel Davies' side a chance of a second-straight league victory, after their impressive 27-11 success at Northampton last week.
Robson explained: "Simpson's a massive threat: every team will look at him and try to snuff him out.
"But he's one of those players who can create something out of nothing.
"We'll just have to be switched on all the time, no matter where the ball is, and hopefully snuff him out and stop him at source.
"Wade and Varndell try to capitalise on what Simpson does, so hopefully if we can stop him that will go some way to stopping them too.
"Northampton love quick-taps and fast play with Lee Dickson in there. We were able to stop that last week and we've got to do that again.
"Simpson loves an open game so we've just got to tie him down and put him under pressure.
"We were really happy with our performance last week but you never get that perfect performance.
"So there's plenty for us to focus on and every week we prepare differently to adapt to the team we're playing.
"So there are different things for us to work on.
"You like to think you produce the perfect game, but there's no such thing!
"There's plenty for us to work on and we've been going over the tapes and spotting plenty we need to sharpen up.
"We want things to work on – we want problems to solve because we want to get better."
Robson will once again pair up with house-mate Ryan Mills in a developing half-back duo.
Fit-again Mills prefers inside centre, but has stepped inside admirably in the injury absence of Freddie Burns and Tim Taylor and Billy Twelvetrees' Six Nations duty.
Robson and Mills have graced the same teams for years, at Hartpury and with England Under-18s and Under-20s.
But they have rarely teamed up at nine and ten.
Former Newcastle-under-Lyme School pupil Robson said he and Mills know each other's games inside-out though – and admits that calms both men down.
He continued: "It does help I share a house with Millsy. We've played with each other for years now through college and age-group rugby.
"So we know each other very well and work off each other well too.
"And it's quite relaxing in a good way actually. You can settle down and play your game, knowing that he's on the same wavelength as I am and I'm on the same wavelength as him.
"So it does help and I'm really enjoying it.
"We haven't really played that much as a half-back pairing.
"We played a bit at college, but both of us played more in different positions.
"And at age-group stuff Ryan played a lot more at 12.
"But being in that environment, that area of the field, it's all similar roles for the team.
"It's massive for everyone. Being one more in at ten, it puts a little bit more pressure on him there, but I think he enjoys it and relishes it.
"So he's great to work with."
Wasps might boast two in-form wings, but Robson said Gloucester's firepower is hardly in short supply.
Backing Jonny May to build on last week's try brace at Northampton, Robson said the Swindon-born wing's first score was on another level.
He added: "I don't know many other players who would have finished Jonny's first try last week.
"We ran a really good move but there was a lot he did to create his space and finish it off.
"He just wants the ball, and it's so good as a nine because as soon as you have the ball he's there screaming for it, looking at gaps and he just gives you that extra option.
"Charlie's exactly the same, so we're really happy to have them back and out wide for us.
"A lot of their tries have come through those guys out wide, that's just another threat for us to handle.
"I'm sure Jonny and Charlie will relish that challenge as well."