Simpson set for 250th Wasps appearance

Date: 1 Mar 2019

Joe Simpson will make his 250th appearance for Wasps as the men in Black and Gold prepare for a crucial Round 15 Gallagher Premiership clash against Leicester Tigers at Welford Road on Saturday (kick-off 3pm).

The 30-year-old will step out for his 177th Premiership appearance at the weekend as Wasps go in search of an all-important win in their quest for the play-offs.

Meanwhile, Thomas Young has recovered from a bout of illness to be named in the back row and elsewhere Ben Harris deputises at loosehead prop, with Zurabi Zhvania called up by Georgia for their upcoming internationals.

Tommy Taylor comes in for his first start since October at hooker while Marcus Watson keeps his place on the wing, with Italy international Michele Campagnaro out injured (back).

Rob Miller steps in for the injured Lima Sopoaga (fractured hand) at fly half and will take up kicking duties, in which the fixture could see him surpass 200 Premiership points, being just one shy of the milestone.

Skipper Ashley Johnson is another player approaching a 200-point milestone, as his next Wasps try would see him bag his 40th try for the Club, following his score against Sale Sharks last weekend.

Coventry RFC loanee and tighthead Biyi Alo is in line to make his debut from the bench while Academy fly half Jacob Umaga is also named among the replacements and could be set for his first Premiership appearance.

Versatile back Ross Neal and loosehead Tom West are also called up to the matchday 23.

Wasps Director of Rugby Dai Young said: “We were really poor in the first-half against Sale last weekend. We didn’t manage the first 20 minutes well.

“In the second-half we were lots better and maybe unlucky at the end not to get the win. It was a game of two halves but when you go to Welford Road, you’ve got to play for 80 minutes - that’s for sure.

“These certainly are derby games. You look at the history and tradition of Wasps and Leicester and we’ve probably both been fighting at the top, but both of us aren’t where we want to be at this moment in time.

“Since we’ve moved up to Coventry, you can’t help but bump into a Leicester fan nextdoor. You sense it’s a big game for the supporters and you can’t help but get dragged into the buzz of it as players and coaches.

“It’s one game we really look forward to and a big one for both teams.”

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Wasps team to face Leicester Tigers at Welford Road on Saturday 2 March (kick-off 3pm)

Wasps (First-team appearances)
15 Willie Le Roux (48)
14 Marcus Watson (21)
13 Juan de Jongh (41)
12 Gaby Lovobalavu (27)
11 Josh Bassett (97)
10 Rob Miller (96)
9 Joe Simpson (249)
1 Ben Harris (40)
2 Tommy Taylor (44)
3 Will Stuart (28)
4 Will Rowlands (68)
5 James Gaskell (102)
6 Ashley Johnson (c) (179)
7 Thomas Young (103)
8 Nizaam Carr (29)

16 Tom Cruse (55)
17 Tom West (11)
18 Biyi Alo (0)
19 Charlie Matthews (11)
20 Jack Willis (34)
21 Craig Hampson (29)
22 Jacob Umaga (7)
23 Ross Neal (10)