Wasps name team to play Saracens
Wasps have made two changes to their quarter final line-up for tomorrow’s European Champions Cup final four clash with Saracens.
Italian international tight head Lorenzo Cittadini and Welsh lock Bradley Davies get the nod for the Madejski Stadium semi final ahead of injured duo Jake Cooper-Woolley and Kearnan Myall.
The loss of England prospect Cooper-Woolley is a blow for Dai Young’s team, since it had been hoped his calf injury would respond to treatment.
However, 33-year-old Cittadini, who has 47 Italian caps, is an able replacement to face the challenge of England’s Maku Vunipola in the front row.
Davies, who replaced Myall 20 minutes into the quarter final win over Exeter, recently won his 50th Welsh cap and will be a key figure in tomorrow’s lineout battle.
With James Cannon and James Gaskell also on the injury list, Young has opted not to include a lock on the bench, instead preferring back-rowers Sam Jones and Thomas Young.
Scrum half Joe Simpson continues his return from an ankle injury on the bench, for the club’s biggest match since Lawrence Dallaglio lifted the trophy in 2007.
Wasps’ boss said his players have approached the semi final no differently to any other game, and agrees with the bookmakers who make Saracens five-point favourites.
“The players know how big this game is,” he says, “so there hasn’t been much that has needed to be said this week since we certainly don’t need any extra motivation.
“The players are excited and looking forward to it, as I’m sure are our Wasps’ fans and everyone associated with the club.
“This week, it has just been a matter of doing what we normally do, making sure preparation is good and that we are all clear on our roles and responsibilities.
“Saracens have probably been favourites for the title from the word go. They are a quality team and have plenty of experience at this level, so we will have to be at our best on Saturday. If we achieve that and do play to the best of our ability, we know we can cause any team problems.
“Our Wasps fans’ have been incredible all season and hopefully they will turn out in force at the Madejski Stadium to support the players in the biggest game of our season so far. These European occasions don’t come around too often and should be savoured. It’s been a long wait to make the last four in Europe and we don’t want our European journey to end here.”
Saracens’ powerful pack includes England’s stand-out trio from the recent Grand Slam success Maro Itoje, George Kruis and Billy Vunipola, who is a former Wasp .
They also give a start to mobile South African hooker Schalk Brits, while another trio of England internationals, Owen Farrell, Alex Goode and Chris Ashton pose varied threats behind the scrum.
Charles Piutau; Christian Wade, Elliot Daly, Siale Piutau, Frank Halai; Jimmy Gopperth, Dan Robson; Matt Mullan, Carlo Festuccia, Lorenzo Cittadini; Joe Launchbury, Bradley Davies; James Haskell, George Smith, Nathan Hughes.
Replacements: Ashley Johnson, Simon McIntyre, Phil Swainston, Sam Jones, Thomas Young, Joe Simpson, Ruaridh Jackson, Rob Miller.
Alex Goode; Chris Ashton, Duncan Taylor, Brad Barritt, Chris Wyles; Owen Farrell, Richard Wigglesworth; Mako Vunipola, Schalk Brits, Petrus du Plessis; Maro Itoje, George Kruis; Michael Rhodes, Will Fraser, Billy Vunipola.
Replacements: Jared Saunders, Richard Barrington, Titi Lamositele, Jim Hamilton, Jackson Wray, Neil de Kock, Charlie Hodgson, Marcelo Bosch.
Referee: Romain Poite
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