Wasps’ internationals return to take on European champions
Wasps’ Director of Rugby Dai Young has named his team to take on defending European Champions Toulon this Sunday, at Stade Félix Mayol in the European Champions Cup Quarter-Final.
(Live on Sky Sports 2, KO 3.15pm UK time.)
Captain James Haskell and Italian international Andrea Masi return to the side, after being rested last weekend following RBS 6 Nations action, while Welsh international Bradley Davies has recovered from a shoulder injury to take his place in the second row. Samoan centre Alapati Leiua has also recovered from a knee injury to start on the bench.
Christian Wade and Sailosi Tagicakibau have been side-lined by hamstring injuries, while no. 8 Nathan Hughes is not allowed to play until after the outcome of his disciplinary appeal hearing (next Friday), as per EPCR rules.
Tom Varndell and Will Helu start on the wings, with Guy Thompson, who played so well against Stade Francais in last season’s European play-off, running out at no 8.
Alex Lozowski retains his starting spot at fly half, having impressed with the boot and with ball in hand against Northampton Saints last Friday. Andy Goode has recovered from a jarred ankle and comes onto the bench. Carlo Festuccia, Charlie Davies and Jake Cooper-Woolley are also fit to start on the bench.
Wasps’ Director of Rugby Dai Young said: “It’s obviously disappointing to have lost Christian Wade late on this week, after pulling up with a hamstring injury in training, and to be without Nathan Hughes in the back row.
“However, you have to play the hand you are dealt and this is where the depth of our squad will come into play. It’s a great opportunity for guys like Guy Thompson, Will Helu and Tom Varndell, as well as the other players, to show everyone what they can do. We have complete confidence in every player on that pitch to put in a performance that will do the squad and our supporters proud.
“There’s no extra motivation needed for this one. This is the first time many of our guys will have played in a European quarter-final and we are taking on the defending champions. Everyone wants to test themselves against the best and it doesn’t get much bigger or better than Toulon in their own back yard. It’s also a fantastic occasion for our supporters to enjoy, having reached the quarter-final the first year we’ve returned to Europe’s top tier.
“If I had been asked to pick a team to play against in the quarter-finals I would have picked Toulon straight away. It is by far the best place to go and play rugby and it will be great for everyone involved with Wasps to be part of this great occasion. We are going to learn so much from this game.
“We know we are the underdogs. There aren’t many teams who play Toulon who don’t start as underdogs. You have to respect what they have done in winning the European Cup twice and the Top 14. They are a real power-house in French and European rugby.
“We know we are going to have to be a little bit more adventurous than if we were playing at home and we know that if we allow them to control the speed and tempo of the game they will be very hard to stop. We need to find a way to unsettle them and we are confident we can cause them problems. Whether it will be enough on the day, who knows.
“Nobody gave us any chance of getting out of our pool, especially after we lost our opening two games. After that kind of start it was a great achievement to reach the quarter-finals. Whatever happens, I know we will come away from the game a better team for the experience.”
15. Rob Miller
14. Will Helu
13. Elliot Daly
12. Andrea Masi
11. Tom Varndell
10. Alex Lozowski
9. Joe Simpson
1. Matt Mullan
2. Edd Shervington
3. Lorenzo Cittadini
4. Bradley Davies
5. Kearnan Myall
6. Ashley Johnson
7. James Haskell (c)
8. Guy Thompson
16. Carlo Festuccia
17. Simon McIntyre
18. Jake Cooper-Woolley
19. James Gaskell
20. Thomas Young
21. Charlie Davies
22. Andy Goode
23. Alapati Leiua