Joe and James good to go for Champions Cup decider
Wasps have confirmed that key forwards James Haskell and Joe Launchbury are both fit to face Leinster in this weekend’s vital European Cup clash.
The England duo both missed Sunday’s last-gasp defeat in Toulon through injuries sustained in the Aviva Premiership win over Worcester.
Haskell’s recovery from a minor shoulder complaint was complicated by an illness which then prevented him from fully completing the necessary rehab last week.
Launchbury suffered two blows to the head against the Warriors, and although he had passed all necessary concussion protocols prior to the Toulon clash, it was deemed prudent to give him a further week’s rest.
The England lock said he was a reluctant spectator, but that the decision to omit him was the right one.
“It was frustrating to miss out at the weekend after putting together an injury-free run of games where I’d been happy with how I was playing,” he said.
“But with concussion rightly being such a hot topic, I hadn’t trained all week. I passed all the tests, but having not trained I think it was a wise call not to play me.
“I watched from home biting my nails, and was hugely disappointed for the guys, and to lose a game like that was heartbreaking.”
Centres Elliott Daly and Ben Jacobs were forced from the field during the closing stages in France, but remain in contention to face Leinster. Given the continued absences of Andrea Masi and Alapati Leuia, Wasps will be keen that both are fit to continue what has proved in recent weeks to be a reliable midfield partnership. Irish duo Brendan Macken and James Downey may otherwise come into the reckoning to face their former province, while winger Sailosi Tagicakibau also has a fair amount of top-flight experience in midfield.
Man-of-the-match Guy Thompson who also hobbled off during the second half in Toulon is also believed to be on the mend, and will contest the No.8 shirt on Saturday with Sam Jones should Nathan Hughes still be unable to prove his return to full fitness from the calf strain which has now troubled him for a month.
Meanwhile, longer-term patients Christian Wade and Carlo Festuccia are believed to be making good recoveries from their respective foot and cheekbone injuries.
Wasps also now know that they will potentially be without Scotland’s Ruaridh Jackson and Wales’ Bradley Davies during the Six Nations, after both were selected by their countries.
Italy are yet to name their squad, but it seems likely that prop Lorenzo Cittadini will add to his 44 caps during the tournament, while Matt Mullan, Daly, Launchbury and Haskell have already been included by England.
Theoretically Wasps could therefore lose seven players for the tournament’s six week cycle, but in practice those players who fail to make the matchday 23 are often returned to their clubs for that weekend’s fixture
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