Nick De Luca: Wasps move stopped me retiring

Nick De Luca (left) in action for Biarritz
De Luca has signed a six-month deal with Wasps after leaving Biarritz

Nick De Luca says he was ready to retire from rugby before Wasps offered him a short-term deal.

Capped 43 times by Scotland, the centre has signed a six-month contract with the Premiership club and hopes to stay for longer after a largely frustrating two-year spell in France with Biarritz.

De Luca, 32, said: "Mentally, I'd kind of prepared myself for retiring.

"There wasn't much out there (in terms of offers) apart from in lower leagues and I didn't want to do that again."

Dumfries-born De Luca started his career with Edinburgh and rejoined the capital outfit after a year with Border Reivers before moving to the French second division in 2014.

"My family all came out to watch my last game for Biarritz and they were very emotional," he told BBC Scotland.

"I started talking to Wasps just after that, so it was a weird time but a time I've learned a lot from. Hopefully I can take that forward going into this opportunity.

"To be honest, the last few years at Biarritz I thought the chance had passed me by for high-level rugby again.

Nick De Luca
De Luca made his Scotland debut against France in 2008

"So to be given this opportunity with such a high-end club, I'm really looking forward to the challenge and seeing if I can still cut it.

"It's a six-month contract, so I've got to hit the ground running and really impress from the word go because I want to stay here and be part of what seems to be a really exciting club."

'Scotland have better players than me now'

De Luca is Wasps' 11th signing of the summer and the Scot is looking forward to teaming up with the likes of England fly-half Danny Cipriani and mercurial Australian Kurtley Beale, who are also among the new batch of recruits.

"It was one of the reasons I wanted to come," he said. "I want to play with the best and be part of that.

"I'm really looking forward to hopefully linking up with these guys, playing some exciting rugby and adding to what already is a fantastic backline."

Nick De Luca
De Luca was part of the Edinburgh team that famously beat Toulouse in 2012 to make the last four of the European Cup

Despite securing the move to Wasps - who finished third in the Premiership last season - De Luca is not expecting a return to the Scotland squad under Vern Cotter.

"Of course we never give up, we always put our names in the hat, but realistically there are better players than me there now who have done more in their short term than I did in my 40 caps," he admitted.

"It would be wonderful, but I'm not expecting that fairytale to continue."

'A tough phase for Scottish rugby'

Scotland's encouraging strides in the Rugby World Cup and Six Nations impressed De Luca, who believes the mindset of the squad under Cotter is a long way from his days in the dark blue jersey.

"I was involved in what was a predominately tough phase for Scottish rugby," he recalls.

"For whatever reason, we've all taken our fair share of blows and it's just part and parcel of the game unfortunately.

"I'm still in touch with a lot of the boys. I've got good friends there, including the current captain (Greig Laidlaw), and they just seem to know exactly what it is they're trying to do.

"It's really refreshing. They've been given this confidence and the ability to go out and show what they've got.

Scotland
De Luca believes the current Scotland team play with a confidence not evident during his spell in the national side

"A lot of the time when I was involved, across the board really, it was about minimising mistakes and all the attention was on your mistakes.

"Therefore, when you go out and play, that's all you're thinking about. Just subtle things like that change the mindset.

"I think you see that, when they go out there, they play with fun, they have a smile on their face.

"If something goes wrong, they smile and laugh it off - it's not the end of the world.

"They've got some great players and it's great to see them playing with a swagger. It's a situation to envy and I just hope it continues for them."

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