Jack Willis to make long-awaited return in Sharks clash
Date: 22 Feb 2019
Wasps back row Jack Willis is set to make a return to action as he is named among the replacements for Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership Round 14 clash with Sale Sharks at Ricoh Arena (kick-off 2pm).
The 22-year-old Academy product has spent the last nine months on the sidelines with a knee injury but is restored to the match-day 23, as Wasps search for a third consecutive league victory in their hunt for the play-offs after wins over Northampton Saints and then Bristol Bears last weekend.
Winger Marcus Watson returns to the side on the right flank in place of Michele Campagnaro, who is on international duty with Italy, while Ben Morris deputises at openside flanker for Thomas Young who misses out through illness.
Lima Sopoaga is back at fly half after Billy Searle is ruled out with a significant ankle injury and he partners Joe Simpson in the half-back combination. The scrum half steps in for his 249th Wasps appearance in the absence of Dan Robson, who’s named on the bench for England for their Six Nations clash in Wales.
Coventry RFC's Biyi Alo comes in as replacement tighthead and could make his Wasps debut in place of Simon McIntyre, who took a knock in training and misses out with concussion.
Lock Charlie Matthews, scrum half Craig Hampson and centre Michael Le Bourgeois also come into the replacements.
Wasps Director of Rugby Dai Young said: “On the back of any win you’re a bit more buoyant. It was a tough game last week and we should’ve won more comfortably than we did but we showed a lot of resilience at the end to get over the line.
“Obviously we’re always looking for performances but they’re not more important than results at the minute.
“Northampton haven’t done us any favours after their win over Sale last week. They’ll be climbing off the walls after that and we know we’re going to have some nasty faces this weekend and we’re going to have to match that physicality first and foremost to allow us to play.
“They’ll be coming down here to try and put the record straight but you have to deal with those factors. They should come down with lots of energy and intent so it has to mean a lot to us as well and we have to back up last week.”
Fans can watch the Wales v England game in Hall 3 of Ricoh Arena following Wasps’ crucial clash with the Sharks.
Wasps team to face Sale Sharks at Ricoh Arena on Saturday 23 February (kick-off 2pm)
Wasps (First-team appearances)
15 Willie Le Roux (47)
14 Marcus Watson (20)
13 Juan de Jongh (40)
12 Gaby Lovobalavu (26)
11 Josh Bassett (96)
10 Lima Sopoaga (19)
9 Joe Simpson (248)
1 Zurabi Zhvania (17)
2 Tom Cruse (54)
3 Will Stuart (27)
4 Will Rowlands (67)
5 James Gaskell (101)
6 Ashley Johnson (c) (178)
7 Ben Morris (13)
8 Nizaam Carr (28)
16 Tommy Taylor (43)
17 Ben Harris (39)
18 Biyi Alo (0)
19 Charlie Matthews (11)
20 Jack Willis (33)
21 Craig Hampson (28)
22 Rob Miller (95)
23 Michael Le Bourgeois (14)