Wasps team to take on Northampton Saints at Franklin’s Gardens

Wasps’ Director of Rugby Dai Young has named his team to travel to Northampton to take on the Saints on Friday evening in Round 18 of the Aviva Premiership.

Matt Mullan again leads the side, with club captain James Haskell rested after starting England’s five games in the RBS 6 Nations.

Alex Lozowski starts at fly half after impressing in training and during appearances from the bench this season, while Glyn Hughes joins the replacements with Andy Goode carrying an ankle injury. Otherwise the backline is unchanged from the side who played Saracens in Wasps’ last game three weeks ago.

Up front, Edd Shervington returns from a shoulder injury to start at hooker, with Ashley Johnson again providing cover.

Lorenzo Cittadini returns from Italian camp to complete the front row, with James Cannon and Kearnan Myall packing down behind him in the second row. The back-row remains unchanged from Wasps last three games.

Wasps’ Director of Rugby Dai Young said: “The fortnight without a game has been an opportunity for players to re-charge their batteries, both physically and mentally, before returning for fitness tests and later for rugby specific drills building towards this Northampton game.

“James Haskell has been given a few days off having started every game for England. We’re really proud of what he’s achieved, but with a Friday game it doesn’t really give you enough time to integrate him back into what we’re doing, having been away since just after Christmas. James deserves some time off and hopefully by giving him a break for this one match, he’ll be able to give even more for the remaining four or five games of the season.

“It’s plain to see Northampton’s strengths so we know what we’re up against this week. They’ve got a very strong forward pack and have done for a number of years. Their scrum is up there with the best in Europe and they’ve scored more driving line-out tries than any other team in the Premiership this season. They’ve also got a fantastic kicker in Stephen Myler and they score a lot of tries, so they’re deservedly top of the table. They were champions last season and they’re out in front this season, so they’re the team for all of us to chase.

“We know what’s coming and you’ve got to match it with real physicality and get your set piece right and play some quality rugby. You’re not going to beat Northampton by sitting back and hoping they make mistakes that you can capitalise on. You’ve really got to take the game to them.

“Top six has always been our target and I expect it will go right down to the wire. Every game is massive for us from now until the end of the season, whether you’re playing Northampton, Exeter, Leicester, London Irish or London Welsh. Every point lost could be really costly, every point gained can make a difference. We’re confident we can get to top six, but we can’t afford any slip-ups.”

Wasps Team 

15.  Rob Miller
14.  Christian Wade
13.  Elliot Daly
12.  James Downey
11.  Sailosi Tagicakibau
10.  Alex Lozowski 
9.  Joe Simpson
1.  Matt Mullan (c)
2.  Edd Shervington
3.  Lorenzo Cittadini
4.  James Cannon
5.  Kearnan Myall
6.  Ashley Johnson
7.  Thomas Young
8.  Nathan Hughes 

Replacements:

16.  Simon McIntyre
17.  Phil Swainston
18.  James Gaskell
19.  Ed Jackson
20.  Guy Thompson
21.  Piri Weepu
22.  Glyn Hughes
23.  Will Helu

Unavailable for selection:

Josh Basset - ankle, Chris Bell - shoulder, Jake Cooper-Woolley - concussion, Bradley Davies – shoulder, Charlie Davies - calf, Carlo Festuccia – leg, Andy Goode – ankle, Ruaridh Jackson - ACL, Ben Jacobs - shoulder, Joe Launchbury - neck, Alapati Leiua - knee, Tom Lindsay - viral illness.

Rested after RBS 6 Nations campaign:

James Haskell and Andrea Masi