James Haskell to miss trip to Northampton Saints
Wasps skipper James Haskell will sit out Friday's trip to Aviva Premiership champions Northampton Saints after playing in all five matches of England’s 6 Nations challenge.
Director of Rugby Dai Young explained: “James has been given a few days off having started every game for England. We’re really proud of what he’s achieved, but with a Friday game it doesn’t really give you enough time to integrate him back into what we’re doing, having been away since just after Christmas.
“James deserves some time off and hopefully by giving him a break for this one match, he’ll be able to give even more for the remaining four or five games of the season.
Matt Mullan will again lead the side which sees Alex Lozowski start at fly half while , with Andy Goode nursing an ankle injury, Glyn Hughes is on the bench
In the front, Edd Shervington returns from a shoulder injury to start at hooker, with Ashley Johnson again providing cover.
Lorenzo Cittadini returns from his 6 Nations duties with Italy with James Cannon and Kearnan Myall behind him in the second row.
“The fortnight without a game has been an opportunity for players to re-charge their batteries, both physically and mentally, before returning for fitness tests and later for rugby specific drills building towards this Northampton game,” said Young.
“It’s plain to see Northampton’s strengths so we know what we’re up against this week. They’ve got a very strong forward pack and have done for a number of years.
"Their scrum is up there with the best in Europe and they’ve scored more driving line-out tries than any other team in the Premiership this season.
"They’ve also got a fantastic kicker in Stephen Myler and they score a lot of tries, so they’re deservedly top of the table. They were champions last season and they’re out in front this season, so they’re the team for all of us to chase.
“We know what’s coming and you’ve got to match it with real physicality and get your set piece right and play some quality rugby. You’re not going to beat Northampton by sitting back and hoping they make mistakes that you can capitalise on. You’ve really got to take the game to them.
“Top six has always been our target and I expect it will go right down to the wire. Every game is massive for us from now until the end of the season, whether you’re playing Northampton, Exeter, Leicester, London Irish or London Welsh. Every point lost could be really costly, every point gained can make a difference.
“We’re confident we can get to top six, but we can’t afford any slip-ups.”
Wasps: Rob Miller; Christian Wade, Elliot Daly, James Downey, Sailosi Tagicakibau; Alex Lozowski, Joe Simpson; Matt Mullan, Edd Shervington, Lorenzo Cittadini, James Cannon, Kearnan Myall, Ashley Johnson, Thomas Young, Nathan Hughes.
Replacements: Simon McIntyre, Phil Swainston, James Gaskell, Ed Jackson, Guy Thompson, Piri Weepu, Glyn Hughes, Will Hellu