Christian Wade is ready to make Premiership history -- physically and mentally.
The Wasps winger needs just 11 tries to overcome Tom Vardnell's record haul of 92 and is raring to go following a preseason which saw him go above and beyond to improve his game.
While on a three-week holiday in the U.S., Wade started his Premiership preparations early after visiting an NFL-style footwork coach nicknamed Speedy Gonzalez in New Jersey, who he had discovered on Instagram some 12 months earlier. The Briton had been impressed by the short workout clips he saw of NFL stars such as Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Mohamed Sanu.
Wade, 27, reached out to the coach and was soon running drills with speed ladders and hurdles, while sharpening his hand-eye coordination by catching tennis and rugby balls. The overall aim was to improve Wade's already-frightening pace but more specifically, the training was designed to fine-tune his central nervous system. Through the repetition of the drills, key attacking movements became second nature.
"A lot of people forget to train their brain," Wade told ESPN. "That's the difference really. If you have to think too much or you take too long, that's when you're tackled. If your mind and your nervous system are in tune, as soon as defenders move this way you've already gone the other way, and before they know it you're already 10 metres down the pitch."
After scoring at least 12 tries in each of the last four Premiership seasons, it's impossible to talk about Wade's brilliance without mentioning his lack of England caps. Despite consistently outscoring other English wingers at the top level of English rugby, Wade continues to be snubbed by Eddie Jones and has not been given the opportunity to add to his solitarily full Test appearance, something his Director of Rugby, Dai Young, cannot comprehend.
"I get disappointed every time I look at the latest squad and see that he is not there," Young said. "Especially given the inclusion of other players."
But Wade knows that all he can do is continue to work hard and continue to score. He's aware of the Premiership record but refuses to let it sit at the forefront of his mind. This season he'll just play the game like he always has; enjoying himself and making the most of every opportunity.
Wasps have finished in the playoff spots in each of the last three seasons, but haven't been able to make that final step towards the title. Wade was pleasantly surprised when he returned to the U.K. in the summer and found the club had moved away from its traditional preseason routine. After years of "mind-numbing" fitness sessions, training was more specific, with a greater emphasis on skills and ball work from the off.
And more time spent with the ball will no doubt benefit Wade's on-field relationship with fullback Willie Le Roux. The South African set up seven of Wade's 13 Premiership tries last season and the pair have developed a glittering partnership over their first two seasons together.
"I love playing with him," Wade said. "He is a hell of a player -- as you can see as he's back in the Springboks team, giving his wingers two, three tries a game. He's just amazing, because he wants to assist, he wants to create space. That's his mindset all the time."
Wade had a similar relationship with Danny Cipriani, and was sad to see the England international's departure to Gloucester in the summer. Despite the loss of Cipriani, the signing of Hurricanes fly-half Lima Sopoaga has strengthened Wasps' squad, which Wade says needs to be more clinical with and without the ball this season.
"There are very small margins that will make the difference in terms of us winning silverware and not winning silverware," Wade added.
But it seems that if anyone is taking care of those small margins, it's Wade. He could be in for a record-breaking year.