Wasps centre Brendan Macken believes they have to be at their best if his side are to get the better of Sale Sharks in the Anglo-Welsh Cup on Friday.
The two have yet to face off in Premiership this season, but with the Anglo-Welsh Cup taking centre stage this weekend, Macken knows the Midlanders will have to be at their very best to get their campaign underway on the front foot.
Wasps have impressed so far this campaign, with defeat to champions Saracens the only blot on their domestic copybook, while they are unbeaten in the European Champions Cup.
But Sale have also found form – despite a run of three successive defeats – sitting just one point outside the top four with three wins so far.
It’s a season the Sharks have looked to build from familiar territories, already securing home wins against both Harlequins and Leicester Tigers and narrowly missing out against Toulon in Europe.
Sale have also had the recent edge in recent head-to-heads, beating Wasps in each of their last six home meetings, something Macken insists his side need to be wary of.
"We know they’re a very good side, especially at home and going there on a Friday night is what they love and it’s going to be tough," said the 25-year-old.
"The AJ Bell Stadium is a tough place to go but we’re relishing the challenge. We’re looking forward to getting up there and showing what we can do. They’re excellent at home and they’ll get their rolling maul and kicking games going, they’ve got some really good players and they nearly beat Toulon not long ago too.
"They do what they do really well."
While Wasps have been soaring high in Premiership, Macken has had to wait patiently for his opportunity. The centre has made just one appearance so far this season, with a knee injury picked up in the A league earlier this season not helping his cause.
Macken, who also had a brief spell with Gloucester Rugby in 2015, is understandably keen to add to the nine appearances he made in a Wasps shirt last year, hoping the Anglo-Welsh Cup can act as a springboard into Dai Young’s future plans.
"I can’t wait to get out there and get playing, I’m really excited and it’s something I’ve been eyeing up to look forward to," he added.
"Any rugby player wants to be out there, but the lads have been doing so well. It is what it is, so now it’s about making sure I make the most of the opportunity when it comes to the weekend and show everyone what it is that I can do, going out there to put my best foot forward.
"This is where it starts. If you can go out from here and play really well then you can put your hand up for the selection and to give yourself more consideration for the bigger games. It’s all about getting minutes under your belt, playing rugby with a great group of lads who are all desperate and hungry to fight for that Wasps jersey."