Kurtley Beale starts against Connacht at the Ricoh Arena
Wallaby signing Kurtley Beale is set to make his Wasps and European Champions Cup debut this Sunday, on his comeback match following a seven-month injury lay-off, when Wasps take on Connacht at the Ricoh Arena, kick off 1pm.
Wasps are also boosted by the return of England internationals Joe Launchbury and Nathan Hughes, who are the only changes to the pack that started against Worcester last Sunday.
Christian Wade returns from a foot injury to start on the right wing, with Josh Bassett lining up on the left. Dan Robson and Jimmy Gopperth form the half back partnership, while Beale starts at inside centre, alongside Alapati Leiua, in Wasps’ midfield combination.
Rob Miller returns to his more familiar position of full back, having impressed last week at fly half when he stood in for Danny Cipriani, who is still sidelined by a calf injury.
Ahead of the first leg of back-to-back games against Connacht Rugby, Wasps’ Director of Rugby Dai Young said:
“We’re really excited about playing Connacht, the defending Pro 12 Champions. They’re a quality side, with threats throughout, and I’m a huge fan of the way they play the game. They probably kick the least out of any European team and they will certainly test our defence. We won’t be able to switch off for a second. Hopefully, if we keep our defence structured, hungry and energised, we can force a few mistakes as well.
“We’re not looking too far down the road at this stage, the only thing we are concentrating on is getting our home game right at the Ricoh Arena on Sunday. In this competition, if you get your home game wrong, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re out, but it does put you under a lot of pressure. So it’s a massive game for us at the Ricoh Arena this Sunday.
“We go into the game in a good place, after what for me was one of our best wins of the season, because of the way the squad stuck together and worked for each other. They responded really well to the injuries we had picked up.
“It’s great to welcome back our captain Joe Launchbury and Nathan Hughes, who did really well on his first start for England last weekend.
“We’re also all very excited to have Kurtley Beale back fit and raring to go, although I suspect no one is more excited than Kurtley himself!
“I’ve been really impressed with his work ethic since he arrived. He’s worked his socks off to get back and he’s fitted in brilliantly with the squad. We all know how talented a player he is, but he’s also very humble and keen to develop further, which makes him a pleasure to work with.
“It was important to wait until he was feeling confident in his knee and his fitness, and it’s great he’s in that place now after being back in training with the squad for three weeks. It will naturally take him a bit of time to get up to speed with our patterns and to return to match-sharpness after a while out, so we’ll be patient on that front, but he’s a world class talent who has looked hugely skillful in training and we’re all excited to have him back and ready to play for Wasps.”
Tickets for this Sunday’s clash with Connacht Rugby are still available to purchase online here
There will also be a bumper Wasps Nest Fan Village in the Ericsson Exhibition Hall on Sunday, opening at 10.30am. Free fairground rides including dodgems will be available for rugby supporters to hop aboard free of charge, alongside a host of other activities for the whole family to enjoy.
Wasps team to face Connacht this Sunday at the Ricoh Arena, kick off 1pm
15. Rob Miller
14. Christian Wade
13. Alapati Leiua
12. Kurtley Beale
11. Josh Bassett
10. Jimmy Gopperth
9. Dan Robson
1. Matt Mullan
2. Tommy Taylor
3. Marty Moore
4. Joe Launchbury ©
5. Kearnan Myall
6. Ashley Johnson
7. Thomas Young
8. Nathan Hughes
16. Alex Rieder
17. Tom Bristow
18. Jake Cooper-Woolley
19. James Gaskell
20. Guy Thompson
21. Joe Simpson
22. Brendan Macken
23. Frank Halai
Unavailable for selection
· Elliot Daly (back for Wasps v Bath on Christmas Eve) Injuries:
· James Haskell (toe - expected back in full training in the New Year)
· Tom Cruse (has undergone an operation on his ankle and is expected to be out for around 12 weeks)
· Matt Symons (foot, is expected to be out for 1-2 weeks)
· Simon McIntyre (is progressing well following an ankle operation and is expected to return to training in the New Year)
· Sam Jones (broken leg & damaged ankle ligaments – expected to return to training towards end of February)
· Alex Lundberg (unfortunately suffered a new injury as he returned to training, breaking his leg.)
· Kyle Eastmond (chest – hoping to return next week)
· Danny Cipriani (calf - hoping to return next week)
· Nick De Luca (following concussion protocols)