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They saved me from retirement: Reddan reels back the years ahead of Wasps clash

The 34-year-old admits he feels ‘indebted’ to the Premiership club, with whom he won a Heineken Cup and Premiership.

Jimmy Gopperth [left] will join Reddan's old club next season.
Jimmy Gopperth [left] will join Reddan's old club next season.
Image: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

IT’S ALMOST A decade since Wasps saved Eoin Reddan from hanging his boots up at the age of 24.

After a spell with Connacht, the scrum-half had played for home province Munster under Alan Gaffney from 2003 into 2005. But having been informed his contract would not be renewed, Reddan found himself lacking offers from elsewhere.

The Limerick man spent two full days seriously contemplating retirement from the professional game before his phone rang out of the blue. Wasps were on the other end of the line and Reddan had said ‘yes’ within minutes.

“There was no talk about it,” recalls Reddan as his Leinster side get set to face Wasps in the Champions Cup on Saturday afternoon.

They were top of the Premiership and had just won the Heineken Cup. There was no talk about figures or years, it was just ‘I’d absolutely love to come.’”

125 appearances over the following four years proved Wasps’ investment a wise one, as Reddan helped the club to the 2007 Heineken Cup and a Premiership title in 2008. From the player’s point of view, there is only gratitude.

“They were massive [in his career]. I was finished and I was going to retire, so in that sense everything that has happened since then was due to one or two coaches seeing something and having a gamble on me.

“I enjoyed my time there and things have followed on. I’ll always feel indebted, I suppose, to the club. It’s a great club with some great fans, but I have to set that aside for the weekend obviously.”

Reddan remembers Wasps as always being a highly progressive, ambitious club. Their strength and conditioning, for example, was world-leading.

Eoin Reddan passes the ball 31/3/2007 Reddan fires away a pass as Gordon D'Arcy hovers. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

“At that time they were miles ahead in terms of S&C and what they were doing with us training-wise. It was pretty close to what everyone is doing now, and that was 10 or 11 years ago,” explains Reddan.

The 34-year-old returned to Ireland when Leinster came calling in 2009, getting out before the most dramatic portion of Wasps’ fall from the peak of English rugby. From the ashes, a new and improved version of the club is rising, however.

Gone are the days of High Wycombe, with Wasps’ relocation to Coventry having come under extreme scrutiny from media and supporters alike. Reddan feels it was the natural progression.

“It’s tough for the club, but obviously it makes sense. Even when I was there, seven years ago now, there was always issues with filling the ground. I remember we used to sell out the grounds we were going to a lot.

We’d arrive into maybe Leeds and they’d have billboards up of our players, selling out their ground.

“Then when we played at home, we couldn’t sell it out because of parking problems and maybe the catchment area not being the right type of individual for a rugby fan.

“I think moving to Coventry has gone well for them on the pitch so far, but off it they’ve had a lot of people in the stands. It seems a positive move for the club, I know the players are happy with it. It’s a great move for them.”

Despite his obvious affection for Wasps, Reddan will have little hesitation in attempting to bring their European campaign to a close this weekend. Leinster’s progress is the scrum-half’s only focus ahead of Saturday.

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