Sale Sharks have announced the signing of Wasps prop Jake Cooper-Woolley for the 2019/20 season.
The 29-year-old joined Wasps ahead of the 2013/14 campaign and has amassed 122 appearances for the club in five seasons.
Rumours surfaced in November that the Surrey-born forward was set to sign a ‘lucrative deal’ with Steve Diamond’s side.
The news was officially confirmed today at 1pm, following Sale Sharks releasing of a ‘new signing’ silhouetted image on social that many Wasps fans immediately identified to be that of Cooper-Woolley.
Cooper-Woolley said: “I have had a fantastic six years at Wasps and I would like to thank all the coaches and especially Dai Young for the opportunities I have had at the club.
“However, now I feel like the time is right for me to have a change in my career and Sale looks like a great opportunity for me to challenge myself in a new environment.
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“I’ll still give my all to the Black and Gold till the end of the season and want to thank the fans for making me feel at home for the past six years.”
Wasps Director of Rugby Dai Young said: “Jake has been a real success story for us over the past six seasons after signing from the second tier of Welsh Rugby, and going on to make 122 appearances for Wasps shows how he’s really developed as a player during his time at the Club.
“We wish him all the best in the future on the field and also off the field, as he prepares to move up to Manchester with his girlfriend.”
Back in November, Young confirmed a third of his squad were out of contract at the end of the season, with numerous clubs in a stronger position within the salary cap to offer more money than Wasps to secure their services.
Young said: “We’ve got good players, with the very nature of us being a top-four team over the past couple of seasons, there are teams in the Premiership who are attracted to those players. Very few of those players don’t get offers from other clubs.
“Some clubs are in stronger positions than us to offer these players an offer they can’t refuse.
“Every one of these players will have different circumstances, different stages of their career and so on.”
Injury-hit six months
Wasps welcomed England international Kieran Brookes last summer to add further competition for the tighthead spot, with Academy graduate Will Stuart providing another strong option on the right side of the scrum.
Knee and bicep issues saw Cooper-Woolley wait until November 4 to make his first appearance of the 2018/19 season against Bristol Bears.
A subsequent rib injury ruled him out of Wasps’ first three games in December, as Dai Young was forced to draft in Mike Daniels from Championship club Nottingham to face Premiership champions Saracens with Stuart also ruled out.
Cooper-Woolley returned to start all of his club’s last three games and formed part of a dominant scrum performance Wasps enjoyed against Northampton Saints at the Ricoh Arena on Sunday.
However, he required physio attention during the match, something that drew criticism from former England prop Joe Marler during Wasps’ match with Harlequins at Twickenham Stadium.
Dai Young backed Jake Cooper-Woolley
Dai Young told CoventryLive back in September 2017 it was time for Cooper-Woolley, who was plucked from Welsh Premiership side Bedwas in 2013, to push onto the next level.
Young said: “By his own admission, I think Jake’s now got the message. You can’t keep talking about potential forever – I’ve backed him for a long time because I feel like he can do it.
“He’s shown at the start of the season that he’s as good as anything in the Premiership. He also showed that 12 months ago before picking up several little injuries that have kept him out for two to three weeks at a time.
“I think he’s had the message that if he doesn’t watch it, his rugby career’s going to pass him by, so he’s determined and had a fantastic pre-season.”
Jake Cooper-Woolley’s honest assessment
During an interview with CoventryLive in July 2018, Cooper-Woolley said he was hoping to ‘kick on’ during the current campaign.
He said: “I learned about how much I need to put in and how much I need to weigh, what I need a week to look like, how I need to feel, to play my best rugby. So I learned that and I think I had patches throughout the year playing really, really well. Obviously it’s tough to play well all of the time.
“That’s what separates the guys right at the very top from the guys who do alright. I struggled a bit playing sometimes, I played a lot of rugby. I played my most minutes ever, my most games ever.
“I was quite happy with a lot of it. It’s tough as a tighthead if you have a couple of bad scrums to put them out of your head, but you appreciate even the best guys have bad scrums. So it’s okay.
“Hopefully I will kick on again this season. There’s things I can do better and I’ll work on those things.
I think the way my career has gone, with it being a bit up and down, my aim is to get a level of consistency and be happy with the way I am playing on a week-by-week basis.”