Varndell relishing Wasps switch
September 4, 2009
Tom Varndell has found a new lease of life with Wasps © Getty Images
Tom Varndell is relishing his fresh start as a Wasps player, admitting that he "had to get out" of his former club Leicester.
The winger found his England aspirations on hold once again at the Tigers after a slump in form following two seasons at the top of the Guinness Premiership scoring charts. He returned to action with England Sevens at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Dubai before being convinced that Wasps was the club for him.
Now, he is set to make his debut in black and amber against Harlequins in Saturday's London Double Header.
"I had to get out of there," he said. "I want to be playing at the top of the game and not just floating around being an average player. I want to continue where I was 18 months ago when I was on England tours and I want to be back in that environment.
"Last season I had a stress fracture in my foot, I had knee problems, personal stuff at home was going on and it was almost too much effort. It sounds so bad. Professional rugby is a dream job and to say it was too much effort is so bad, but I got to the point where I wasn't motivated at all.
"It wasn't good for me, for the club or for my friends. I became quite a negative person. I knew I wasn't performing well at Leicester, I didn't warrant a place in the team and I couldn't blame anyone else. I knew I needed to get out, I went to them and said I wanted to leave and it was a good decision.
"I feel relaxed and more the person I want to be than the person I was last season. I seriously cannot wait for the season to start. I have never been more excited about playing rugby."
Varndell is keen to add to his four England caps after falling out of favour since his last involvement, on the tour of New Zealand in 2008. He is hopeful that if he can secure a starting berth regularly then the new expertise found under the tutelage of Shaun Edwards and Tony Hanks will stand him in good stead.
"It has been fantastic. I needed a change of scenery and I wanted to get some individual training from guys like Shaun Edwards," he said. "You don't want to leave a club like Leicester and join one that hasn't got a history and hasn't won trophies.
"There are a lot of boys here who are young but have played a lot of rugby - Dom Waldouck, Danny Cipriani, Joe Simpson. There is a lot of potential and a lot of hunger in the team.
"The analysis you get here is really individual to the player. It is something I have been waiting for. The coaching, and the time taken for each player, has been really good. I have grown up a lot and matured. I feel a much better player now that Shaun has got hold of me and I am a lot happier. Things are going well. We will have to see about England because I will have to nail my place here because the other wingers aren't too bad - Paul Sackey and David Lemi. But I feel like I have hit the ground running again."
"To be part of the Commonwealth Games, I'd wear anything. I'd wear a clown suit." Tom Hamilton talks to Scotland's Sean Lamont
Scrum Sevens looks back at how rugby has fared in both the early Olympics and the past four Commonwealth Games
"Cheika's been phenomenal. He gives you an incredible level of mental strength." Tom Hamilton talks to Waratahs star Jacques Potgieter
While the Super Rugby season enters the all-important knockout phase, elsewhere pre-season training never looked so enjoyable. We round-up the best snaps in our Week in Pictures