Wasps bid farewell to Johnson

Wasps head coach Lee Blackett has hailed Ashley Johnson as one of the best signings in their history as it was confirmed that the veteran forward will be leaving the club.

Former Springbok forward Johnson has left Wasps after spending eight years in the Premiership. The 34-year-old scored 42 tries and came within two caps of making 200 appearances for Wasps.

Johnson joined Wasps in 2012 and became an instant favourite, with his bulldozing runs and powerful tackling. While he started his career as a loose forward, he made a seamless transition to hooker in the 2014-15 season and continued to alternate between the two positions.

‘Ashley has to go down as one of the best signings in Wasps history,’ Blackett told the club’s website. ‘He has become a fan favourite for several reasons, whether it’s his barnstorming carries, massive gainline-stopping tackles or for being a very humble character.

‘Ash will be massively missed both on and off the field. He has been the ultimate team man in everything he has done, and we wish him, Chrizaan and the boys all the very best for the future.’

While he was linked with a move to the Vodacom Bulls, Johnson is rumoured to be set to take up a role with the England RFU.

‘I would like to thank everyone at Wasps that was part of my incredible journey during the last eight years,’ Johnson said. ‘To the coaches, players, amazing staff and most of all the supporters, I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to be part of such a historic club. I have played alongside some incredibly talented players in my time at Wasps, and more importantly I’ve made some lifelong friends.

‘To Dai Young, who signed me back in 2012, thank you for believing and taking a chance on me – I will be forever grateful. Also, to my wife and three kids, thank you for all the love and continued support, this wouldn’t have been possible without you.

‘It was a privilege and honour to put on the black and gold and I will look back on it with fond memories. Relocating to Coventry and playing at the Ricoh is certainly one of the highlights of my career at Wasps.’

Photo: Action Images/John Clifton