Wasps with point to prove

Raphael Ibanez claims Wasps will be fired-up by last season's miserable Heineken Cup flop when they kick off their campaign against Castres on Sunday. [more]

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Raphael Ibanez claims Wasps will be fired-up by last season’s miserable Heineken Cup flop when they kick off their campaign against Castres on Sunday.

The 2004 European champions were surprise pool-stage casualties for a second successive term after they made little impact on a group which also included Toulouse, Llanelli Scarlets and Edinburgh.

Wasps paid a hefty price for three away defeats, and there is a burning desire to make amends.

"We are up for it – make no mistake about that," said France international hooker Ibanez, who lines up in an unchanged team following last weekend’s Guinness Premiership victory over Newcastle.

"We know we will have no easy matches – and we have to go straight to it when we play Castres on Sunday. We have to be effective from the off.

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"We did not achieve what was expected of us in the Heineken Cup last season, and there is a strong determination to make up for that this time around.

"As we found out last season, if you are not properly prepared then there are no second chances in the Heineken Cup. You have to make every match result count if you want to progress to the quarter-finals.

"For Wasps to win the Heineken Cup again would be fantastic, because trying to do that is certainly the best challenge you can have at club level in the northern hemisphere."

Wasps are favourites to top a group which also includes Perpignan and Treviso, and rugby director Ian McGeechan admitted: "There has been that buzz around the training ground this week.

"Training has been very competitive, because a lot of players in the squad have been putting their hand up for selection."

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