Dai Young previews Harlequins Champions Cup encounter
Director of rugby Dai Young provides an injury update and looks ahead to the crucial Champions Cup round five clash against Harlequins at the Stoop.
Club captain Joe Launchbury has provided Wasps with a timely boost by returning to full training ahead of this weekend’s crucial European Champions Cup trip to Harlequins.
The England international second row has recovered from a heavy cold and is available for selection for Saturday’s must-win game at the Stoop.
In addition, director of rugby Dai Young expects loose head prop Simon McIntyre to return to the fold after recovering from a knee injury sustained against Bath, while he confirmed that Willie Le Roux suffered nothing worse than a cut lip during the closing stages of Sunday’s defeat by Saracens.
However, Wasps’ boss says he is much less clear about the identity of his midfield combination after Gaby Lovobalavu joined Jimmy Gopperth and Elliot Daly on the sidelines.
“Juan De Jongh has a tight hamstring, so we're sweating on him for the weekend as we are on Kyle Eastmond who is coming back from a calf injury,” he said.
“We're hoping those two will be available for selection, but it’s certainly not guaranteed, and if they don't come through, other players will step up.
“Guy Armitage did pretty well against Sarries - we all know he's a big physical guy that can handle the physicality of the game, and he's impressed in some A Team games as well.
“Brendan Macken's also not a stranger to the first-team, and when he has stepped up we’ve seen he's more than capable, so they're the four centres we've got in the mix.
Looking ahead to this weekend’s round five clash, Young acknowledged that nothing less than four points will suffice if his team are to retain hopes of either topping pool one or progressing to the last eight as one of the three highest-ranked pool runners-up.
“We’ve now got two massive European games to navigate through,” he said. “They are must-win games from which we probably need nine points to give ourselves a chance.
“If we can go to Quins and get a result then that gives us a real opportunity back in Coventry against Ulster.
“We've just got to look to win the games and if we're in a position where we can push for a bonus-point in the last 15 minutes, so be it.
“Our focus has to be on just getting the results. It's always a tight game against Quins and we don't expect anything different this weekend, even though the competition is over for them.
“I think they'd quite enjoy putting a dent in our ambitions as well. We're not expecting any favours, we know it's going to be a tough game and we know we're going to have to play some good stuff.”
“They've got individual strengths right across the board, we know what they're good at and we're respectful of that. They're a very momentum-based team, if they get their offloading game going, they can score from anywhere, and if you're not on your mettle they can cause you lots of problems.
“But it's more about us getting our game plan right, getting ourselves into the game and enforcing the way we want to play, and that’s what we will be focusing on.”
Wasps host Ulster on Sunday January 21 at 3.15pm in a game which – if they beat Harlequins on Saturday - has crucial significance for their European Champions Cup hopes.
Tickets are available from the Ricoh Arena box office, by phone on 02476 786411 or online at www.wasps.co.uk/tickets.