Launchbury returns while Cruse to make 50th Wasps appearance v Northampton

Date: 4 Jan 2019

Joe Launchbury has recovered from injury to play for the first time since September as Wasps host Northampton Saints at Ricoh Arena on Sunday (kick-off 3pm).

The England lock has been absent with knee and neck problems over the past several months but will make his long-awaited return in Round 12 of the Gallagher Premiership this weekend.

Meanwhile, hooker Tom Cruse is set for his 50th appearance for the Club as he is joined by Jake Cooper-Woolley and Georgian prop Zurabi Zhvania in the front row.

In the backs, Springbok Juan de Jongh returns to the starting line-up in place of Michael Le Bourgeois while Nathan Hughes returns to the match-day 23 after missing last weekend through a family bereavement.

Gaby Lovobalavu’s impressive showing in the Premiership Rugby Shield clash for Wasps A against Northampton Wanderers sees him recalled to the squad among the replacements.

Wasps Director of Rugby Dai Young said: “Northampton are close rivals and there’s never much between the two teams traditionally but we haven’t had the results we’d have liked in the last couple of games, certainly at the Ricoh, so it’s all about getting the result.

“We’ve got to do the basics really well, cut out errors and take opportunities. If you look at last weekend we had 60 per cent possession and territory but squandered chances. Coaches always talk about performances but now the result is a bit more important.

“Harlequins sit in fourth and they’ve won five games – the same amount as us. If you can win a couple of games, you can rocket up the table but equally you can shoot down the table if you lose a couple.

“This is the last game of this block so we want to finish strongly before the next block of league matches over the Six Nations.”

Wasps team to face Northampton Saints at Ricoh Arena on Sunday 6 January (kick-off 3pm)

Wasps (First-team appearances)
15 Willie Le Roux (45)
14 Josh Bassett (91)
13 Michele Campagnaro (3)
12 Juan de Jongh (36)
11 Elliot Daly (186)
10 Lima Sopoaga (14)
9 Dan Robson (92)
1 Zurabi Zhvania (13)
2 Tom Cruse (49)
3 Jake Cooper-Woolley (121)
4 Joe Launchbury (c) (132)
5 Will Rowlands (63)
6 Brad Shields (7)
7 Thomas Young (100)
8 Nizaam Carr (23)

16 Antonio Harris (13)
17 Ben Harris (34)
18 Will Stuart (22)
19 Kearnan Myall (129)
20 Nathan Hughes (116)
21 Craig Hampson (26)
22 Billy Searle (9)
23 Gaby Lovobalavu (21)