Phil Greening questions Wasps' spirit

Former Wasps hooker Phil Greening believes his old club have lost the spirit that was behind their success in the previous decade.

Wasps, beset by financial problems, could be relegated to the Championship if they lose to Newcastle on Saturday.

"We have lost the essence of what it is to be Wasps and I think that needs to be brought back first and foremost," Greening told BBC Sport.

"It's sad to see that being a Wasp is not important to some people anymore."

The club won four English titles and two Heineken Cups between 2003 and 2008, but will drop towards the second tier if they suffer a bonus-point defeat or lose by a 24-point margin to the Falcons at Adams Park on Saturday.

Wasps' glory years

  • 2007-08: Premiership
  • 2006-07: Heineken Cup
  • 2005-06: Anglo-Welsh Cup
  • 2004-05: Premiership
  • 2003-04: Premiership & Heineken Cup
  • 2002-03: Premiership & European Challenge Cup

Owner Steve Hayes is seeking a buyer for the club after his application to build a new stadium for the team was turned down and it is feared that dropping out of the top flight could be fatal to its future.

But Greening believes that issues in the dressing room, rather than the board room, are the source of Wasps' decline.

"Before people would turn down higher money to be at Wasps because of what the club was," added Greening who spent five years at the club between 2000 and 2005.

"Having the club bond from top to bottom was crucial to our success.

"There has been a lack of strong management to keep the culture, the environment and the beliefs safe and make sure people do not abuse or undermine it.

"There was a legacy, back to [former director] Nigel Melville's days and through [coach between 2002 and 2005] Warren Gatland's years, and that did not really carry on.

"I think [current head coach] Dai Young has done a good job to get people back on the ground, but the damage was already done."

Defending Premiership champions Saracens have put an emphasis on team building and were fined for instructing captain Steve Borthwick to attend a squad trip to a beer festival in Munich, rather than attend a Heineken Cup news conference in September 2010.

"Saracens took the example for Wasps and are reaping the rewards," added Greening.

"Now everyone wants to sign for Saracens because of their culture and their environment. That is what Wasps had, but have left behind.

"That is why people left and did not want to be there any more. It is the living proof of how much it slipped."