Wasps rest George Smith for Worcester Match
Wasps rest George Smith and Siale Piutau for Worcester clash which could clinch play-off spot
Dai Young has rested key men George Smith and Siale Piutau for Wasps’ Aviva Premiership visit to Worcester tomorrow. Although a win at Sixways clinches a top four finish for Wasps for the first time since 2008, their boss has also remained mindful of next week’s European Cup semi-final with Saracens, plus the crucial league trip to Exeter which follows.
Piutau has not missed a minute of action in nine matches since making his debut, while Smith has been excused only two matches so far this season. Rather than bringing James Downey, Ben Jacobs or Brendan Macken into Piale’s No.12 shirt, Young has opted to shift Elliot Daly into the inside centre role he covered for England during the Six Nations. He will be partnered in midfield by Charles Piutau, which means Rob Miller, who was man-of-the-match against Northampton a fortnight ago wears the full back shirt, while Christian Wade makes his 100th Wasps appearance on the right wing.
Perhaps mindful of the poor weather forecast for Saturday, Wasps have selected a pack that should provide a strong setpiece base. Lorenzo Cittadini makes his first start since late January at tighthead, where Jake Cooper-Woolley provides cover from the bench.
Bradley Davies, who replaced the injured Kearnan Myall against Exeter last week, starts in the second row, while the in-form Thomas Young fills in for Smith in his preferred No.7 shirt.
Young says Wasps have switched back into league mode quickly this week after the excitement of their last-gasp European Cup win over Exeter, and that they expect a tough challenge at Worcester. "After the emotional high of Saturday’s last-minute victory in Europe, the players have responded well in training this week and have quickly focused their attentions on what will be a very difficult trip to Sixways, back in the Aviva Premiership," he says. "Worcester have really shown their quality in recent weeks, with wins over London Irish, Harlequins, Newcastle Falcons, Gloucester and Sale Sharks, so we know the challenge that faces us at Sixways."
Worcester’s boss Dean Ryan, who is a former Wasps captain, has made five changes to his side compared to the side which lost heavily at Exeter last time out. Tom Biggs, Ryan Mills, Nick Schonert, Jaba Bregvadze and Phil Dowson are all restored to the starting line-up as Warriors chase a fourth consecutive home win. The Warriors, who combine South African Schonert with a Georgian duo in a cosmopolitan front row which promises to provide Wasps with a stiff test at the scrum.
In a further interesting front row sideline, James Johnston, who was signed by Young over the summer then released a few months later never having been considered fit enough to play, is set to appear against his former club from the Worcester bench.
Worcester : Chris Pennell; Tom Biggs, Bryce Heem, Ryan Mills, Cooper Vuna; Tom Heathcote Francois Hougaard; Val Rapava Ruskin, Jaba Bregvadze, Nick Schonert; Donncha O’Callaghan, Darren Barry; Phil Dowson, Carl Kirwan, GJ van Velze.
Replacements: Niall Annett, Na’ama Leleimalefaga, James Johnston, Tevita Cavubati, Sam Betty, Luke Baldwin, Ryan Lamb, Andy Symons
Wasps: Rob Miller; Christian Wade, Charles Piutau, Elliot Daly, Frank Halai; Jimmy Gopperth, Dan Robson; Matt Mullan, Carlo Festuccia, Lorenzo Cittadini; Joe Launchbury, Bradley Davies; James Haskell, Thomas Young, Nathan Hughes.
Replacements: Ashley Johnson, Simon McIntyre, Jake Cooper-Woolley, Will Rowlands, Sam Jones, Joe Simpson, Ruaridh Jackson, Brendan Macken Referee: JP Doyle Paul Smith [sourcelink]http://www.coventrytelegraph.net/sport/rugby/wasps-rest-george-smith-sial