Rees - I will put it right
Tom Rees is determined to put his injury heartache of 2005 behind him as he prepares to face Leicester at Twickenham on Saturday.
By Joe Drabble
Last Updated: 01/06/08 9:15pm
London Wasps and England lock Tom Rees is determined to put his injury heartache of 2005 behind him as he prepares for his first Guinness Premiership final against Leicester at Twickenham on Saturday.
Rees was an integral part of Wasps' title winning campaign in the 2004/2005 season, but was forced to sit out the final showdown against the Tigers after suffering a cruel injury against Sale in the semi-final.
Speaking exclusively to skysports.com, Rees revealed his anguish at being forced to sit in the stands for the 39-14 victory over Tigers in 2005, and insists he will do all he can to inspire Wasps to their fourth league title in six seasons.
"It is a huge game," Rees said. "The biggest game of my career so far was the 2007 Heineken Cup final, and this is up there with that.
"My injury in the play-off semi-final was devastating. Not to be involved in the (2005) final was hard to take.
"And although I played a major part in the season - to miss out on the final felt as if I wasn't as involved.
"But that is something I will definitely be looking to put right on Saturday."
The Twickenham showdown will see Rees line up in the forward line with former England stalwart Lawrence Dallaglio for the final time in a Wasps jersey.
Dallaglio will make his 339th appearance in the black and gold on Saturday, and although Rees admits there is extra determination in the camp to give the World Cup winner the send off he deserves, he is wary of what happened when another England great Martin Johnson bowed out back in 2005.
"We want to win for Lawrence but it is not at the foremost of our minds," said Rees.
"It has been unreal to play with him, as a youngster I grew up watching an England back row of (Neil) Back, (Richard) Hill and Dallaglio and for a young player to play with him has been fantastic.
"I have learnt so much from him, on and off the field. As a rugby player and as a bloke he has been a true English talisman.
"He is an English rugby great but Leicester will really want to win. We reigned when Martin made his farewell and they will be looking for a similar outcome."
Wasps renew their rivalry with Tigers in front of a packed Twickenham on Saturday, with Leicester looking to land back-to-back Guinness Premiership titles.
The feat will be made even more remarkable considering Marcelo Loffreda's men only squeezed into the play-off shake-up courtesy of a last minute try on the final day of the regular season.
"If you look back at our previous finals against Leicester they have always been pretty physical and uncompromising," said Rees.
"On thing is certain, the final will not be a dull affair and both sides have very exciting backlines.
"Form really does go out of the window on Saturday and it will just come down to who can keep their heads when it matters the most."
Semi-final injuries to inspirational duo Danny Cipriani (ankle) and Tom Voyce (shoulder) come as an untimely blow for Ian McGeechan's men, however, 23-year old Rees is confident there is enough strength in the squad to overcome the setbacks.
"Danny and Tom are quality players, but we are not a one man band," said Rees.
"We have some very capable players to come in and both players know they play well as part of a team.
"There is now extra motivation for us to win it for them, and also extra motivation for the players to come in so we won't be worrying about it too much."