Wasps' International Community Weekend Round-up
Wasps’ Six Nations starting contingent has been reduced to just England’s James Haskell and Italian prop Lorenzo Cittadini for this weekend’s round two matches.
Lock Joe Launchbury has unexpectedly lost his starting spot to Northampton’s Courtney Lawes, and unusually will sit on England’s bench in Rome alongside another lock, Saracens’ Maro Itoje.
Meanwhile, England’s Elliot Daly and Scotland’s Ruaridh Jackson have both been named in Wasps’ starting line-up for Sunday’s Aviva Premiership clash with Saracens, while a fourth England squad man, prop Matt Mullan, is on the black-and-gold bench.
Despite earlier rumours to the contrary, Haskell retains England’s No.7 shirt at the Stadio Olimpico, while Harlequins’ openside Jack Clifford is one of six forwards who join scrum half Danny Care and full back Alex Goode on England’s bench.
Meanwhile, Wasps’ lock Bradley Davies will win a 51st Welsh cap if he emerges from among his country’s replacements to face Scotland at the Principality Stadium tomorrow.
Warren Gatland’s team have recorded eight consecutive victories over their visitors, and it is 14 years since Gordon Bulloch’s brace of tries saw Scotland last claim a win on Welsh soil.
Nonetheless, Scotland’s impressive World Cup showing hinted at progress under new coach Vern Cotter, and Davies knows they will pose a formidable test for the Dragons.
“Scotland will be smarting from being beaten by England last Saturday, and they will come out with all guns blazing,” he said.
“Scotland are very good, and it’s going to be a tough game. The Gray brothers are very good lineout forwards, and it’s a big challenge for us as a pack of forwards, but something we thrive on.
“We went into the game with Ireland very confident of winning, but the first 20 minutes we didn’t perform like we wanted to do. We probably got beaten on the emotional side, but we weathered the storm and were one decision away from winning the game.
“It was a decent result, and if we win every remaining game, we aren’t going to be far away from winning the championship.”
Wales’ young props Rob Evans and Samson Lee were two success stories that emerged from last Sunday’s draw in Dublin, and Davies believes the duo look worthy successors to the long-serving Adam Jones and Gethin Jenkins.
“Rob has come in and trained with the likes of Gethin week in, week out and seen what they do, and now he is transferring that to his game,” he said.
“I didn’t think he looked out of place on the weekend. I thought he was awesome in what was one of his first big starts, and he has got to take confidence from that.
“Rugby union these days is won in the scrum and the lineout - it has a big bearing on the game.
“If you are getting pressurised ithere, teams just kick to the corner, drive the lineout and get cheap penalties. Flip that over, and if you have got a dominant scrum, you need a penalty, you take the scrum, win a penalty and it takes the pressure off.”
For his part, Davies is again be on the bench this weekend, covering second-row pair Alun Wyn Jones and Luke Charteris, but he relishes the competition for places.
“As a squad, I think it is great,” he said. “The coach has four or five second-rows he can play, and as a player all you can do is train well, play well and go back to your club.
“I am lucky with Wasps. I play big games week in, week out, and it is hard enough to get into the Wasps team, let alone the Wales team.
“You never know with Wales, it could be your last game today or tomorrow. You have got to enjoy every second you are here, and that is what I am doing at the moment.
“If I get a chance to play, happy days. If not, I will support the boys who are playing and hopefully develop a winning Welsh squad.”
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