PLAYING in just his fourth season for Wasps, it would be easy to think former Bromsgrove School student Guy Thompson was relatively new to the world of professional rugby.
But teammate and fellow flanker James Haskell wants to make sure everyone knows the 30-year-old Hereford-born player has been around the block.
Thompson has trodden a somewhat unconventional path en route to the top tier of English rugby, having retired from the sport altogether after leaving school.
The openside flanker took up the game again when an old schoolteacher invited him to play at Hereford, then a Midlands One West side.
A spell playing sevens in Dubai and time at Richmond and Jersey came before Thompson found his way into the Premiership, signing with Wasps in 2013.
And Haskell believes the back row forward will be there for a long time yet, though he is eager to dispel any myths that Thompson is new to the game.
“I love Guy, he’s somehow convinced everybody that he’s a young player coming through,” joked Wasps and England international rugby player and Meridian Foods Sporting ambassador Haskell.
“He’s not, he’s 30 years old. I’m going to keep saying this until people realise that he is.
“He’s obviously trading off the fact and even I thought he was an up-and-coming player when he came through.
“But he’s done the hard yards to go through difficult clubs and now he’s found a home at Wasps.
“He will just keep plugging away now and will be a feature for years to come.
“If you’re a naturally talented player and have a good work ethic, which he does, you’ll always make it through.
“He’s been unbelievable for us, I’ve loved playing with him and I’m in awe at some of the things he’s done.”
Thompson was tipped for an England spot during the height of Wasps’ success last season, but a prolonged losing streak and four weeks out with injury have quelled those rumours during this campaign.
Haskell believes Thompson – who made his return from injury this weekend – is exactly where he needs to be though, explaining that the former recruitment consultant’s skills perfectly complement those of his back-row teammates in Coventry.
“Guy’s a great player in the loose, he’s very skilful and a great runner with ball in hand. He’s a lovely guy as well,” Haskell added.
“Back row is all about the balance, it’s not about the individual players.
“Sometimes it’s about fitting someone like him with a Nathan (Hughes) or a Thomas (Young).
“It’s about getting the balance right, you can’t have people who are all great at carrying the ball because you need people to be destructive in the tackle area.
“I’m not saying he’s not good there, he’s had some great games for Wasps and he’s someone who will just keep building up.”
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