Wasps scrum-half Joe Simpson is set to make 150th appearance for Wasps when he lines up against Bath at the Rec.
The England-capped scrum-half came through Wasps Academy and made his debut aged 20, against Newcastle Falcons in October 2008.
“It’s an honour to get even one appearance for Wasps, let alone 150,”said Simpson.
“Growing up I enjoyed my rugby, but I didn’t think I would ever be able to make a profession out of it.
“Just to be able to play in the same team as some of my heroes growing up was an honour for me. Being part of this team now is also a huge privilege. I still appreciate every day, even when it’s raining and it’s cold and miserable, the boys pick you up in training.
“To make 150 appearances for Wasps will be pretty special for me, particularly because I’ve grown up here at the Club. There’s always something special about representing one club for a lengthy period of your career.
“I came through the Wasps Academy and they’ve taught me everything I know about the game here. Hopefully I’ve done my bit to repay the Club, through being loyal and sticking with Wasps through some of the more difficult times and now we’re fortunate to be going through a purple patch. The ups and downs over the years have certainly made the journey more memorable and it’s been an incredible honour every step of the way.
“My debut doesn’t actually seem that long ago – it was in the LV= Cup against the Falcons up in Newcastle. I came off the bench with 20 minutes to go and was lucky enough to score a try, which was a nice welcome into the team and a special moment for me.
“It was a great experience, but also fairly daunting one as well as there were huge characters in the team at that stage – Eoin Reddan was first choice scrum half then and we still had Josh Lewsey and that whole era. There were World Cup winners and internationals all around me, and I was this young kid who barely knew anything but was just starting out and trying to find my feet.”
Having seemingly been on the block for so long, the 26-year -old is quick to nip any notion of being one of the older players in the bud:
“I still feel as spritely as ever – don’t go ageing me too quickly thank you,” he jokes.
“I’d like to think I’ve accrued a bit of experience over the years, but I still feel like one of the young kids in the team to be honest. I still enjoy running about at training and feel pretty fresh.”
On a more poignant note, Simpson agreed there would be a time for quiet reflection and immense pride after the game when he is able to think of the people who have helped him to achieve the 150 milestone, particularly his mother Brigid who sadly passed away a year ago and is never far from his thoughts.
“She sacrificed so much for me, driving me all over the country from the age of 10, to club games and to England camps from Wolverhampton. Some of the locations were far from glamorous and I remember her standing watching in the pouring rain, all wrapped up! My family have always been incredibly supportive. Hopefully my brother and I have repaid my parents a little by giving them the enjoyment of watching us play.
“The emotion of what my parents have sacrificed to help me to reach this stage is always in the back of my mind and I will always be thankful for that, but come game time it will be business as usual, nothing different. It’s a huge game for us against Bath. They are a fantastic team and there are not many harder matches for me, so it’s going to be tough.
“At the end of the game, hopefully we will be able to reflect on a win, but whatever the result, I’d like to think there will be time to take it all in and in a few years I will look back on the 150th appearance with immense pride.”