Russian rugby internationals Vladislav Korshunov and Viktor Gresev can only benefit from their recent transfer to London Wasps, national team head coach Kingsley Jones told RIA Novosti in an interview.
Korshunov and Gresev are stalwarts of the Russia team who featured in the country’s impressive World Cup debut in 2011. Korshunov, 28, plays as a hooker and is the national team captain, while 25-year-old Gresev is a No. 8 who was named Russia’s player of the year in 2009 and 2011.
They switched to Wasps from Russian club side VVA-Podmoskovye last week.
“I was delighted, to be honest," Jones told RIA Novosti at the Russian Rugby Academy over the weekend. " I think it’s a great experience for the two of them to be able to play in the Premiership and valuable for them to learn the culture and see what professional sport is like in the UK at a top club, although [Wasps are] struggling at the moment.”
Wasps said in a statement that the Russians would cover for more established members of the team. Gresev turned down an offer from second-tier side Nottingham to join Wasps, who are currently 11th of 12 teams in the Premiership.
“I think it’s about playing, but it’s also about the environment. [Wasps have] won European trophies, and I’ll be very surprised if [Gresev] doesn’t play much. I think he’ll play for Wasps as much as he would for Nottingham.
“And I’m good friends with David Young, so there’s more to it than just sending them to a club. I know David Young, Paul Turner, James Wade, the recruitment manager, they’re all friends, so I trust that [Korshunov and Gresev] go there and I trust that they get some rugby if they deserve it, and that they’ll be released appropriately if and when I need them.”
Jones said that he was not worried about the players being released for international duty, as this was covered by International Rugby Board regulations.
The four Russian internationals currently based in England - including Vasily Artemyev of Northampton Saints and Andrei Ostrikov of Sale Sharks - will feature in the European Nations Cup which starts on February 4, but may not play in all Russia’s games, Jones said. This would allow emerging talents at Russian clubs an opportunity to play, he added.