Wasps vs Leicester Tigers
Wasps vs Leicester Tigers: Joe Launchbury back on the bench for Dai Young's side after six months out
Captain James Haskell makes 150th appearance in front of a capacity crowd at the Ricoh Arena
Wasps will field an unchanged team when they take on Leicester Tigers in front of a record-breaking Ricoh full house of 32,000 tomorrow.
Director of Rugby Dai Young has stuck with the team that beat Exeter Chiefs 36-29 last time out, although there is one highly significant addition to the list of replacements with England lock Joe Launcbury back from the neck problem that sidelined him since the European Cup clash with Harlequins in October.
Captain James Haskell will make his 150th appearance for the club in the game that kicks off at 3.15pm
There are two other enforced tweaks on the bench with Tom Lindsay replacing Edd Shervington (shoulder) while while Will Taylor is in for Jake Cooper-Woolley (hamstring).
The game will be the first instalment of the newly-created M69 derby and Young added: “We understand Wasps’ move to Coventry will undoubtedly add an extra dimension to this game against Leicester Tigers given we have recently become ‘neighbours,’ but to be honest Wasps/ Leicester games have for a long time had a special rivalry of their own, regardless of geography.
“Leicester are in the driving seat if you like – starting the weekend three points ahead of us in the table, with their sights again set on the play-offs. We know the calibre of the side we are up against - a club which has made the top four each of the last ten seasons.
“With a top-six finish and European qualification guaranteed if we were to win, you don’t need to look far for motivation. If we were to achieve that, we would then have a shot at the play-offs. First we have to get past Leicester and that is a huge challenge, which has absorbed all our focus this week.
“To have achieved a sell-out in our first season is incredible and I would like to take this opportunity to thank the off-field team for their hard work in making that happen.
“We couldn’t have envisaged how well the move would go or how much the people of Coventry and Warwickshire would take us in and get behind us. We are very appreciative of that and of the commitment our supporters from Adams Park have shown to come with us. We feel a huge responsibility to pay back that loyalty and support.
“I would also like to congratulate our captain James Haskell on achieving 150 appearances for Wasps. He has been a strong leader for us again this season and continues to set the standards within the squad. These are the types of occasions and stages he thrives on. It’s set to be the kind of occasion you play rugby for and I am sure both teams will be determined to produce a performance fitting of that occasion.”
Wasps: Andrea Masi; Christian Wade, Elliot Daly, Alapati Leiua, Sailosi Tagicakibau; Andy Goode, Joe Simpson; Matt Mullan, Carlo Festuccia, Lorenzo Cittadini, James Gaskell, Kearnan Myall, Ashley Johnson, James Haskell, Nathan Hughes.
Replacements: Tom Lindsay, Simon McIntyre, Will Taylor, Joe Launchbury, Guy Thompson, Charlie Davies, Alex Lozowski, Rob Miller.
Leicester: Niall Morris, Adam Thompstone, Mathew Tait, Seremaia Bai, Vereneki Goneva; Freddie Burns, Ben Youngs; Logovi’i Mulipola, Tom Youngs, Dan Cole, Brad Thorn, Graham Kitchener, Geoff Parling, Julian Salvi, Jordan Crane.
Replacements: Leonardo Ghiraldini, Marcos Ayerza, Fraser Balmain, Ed Slater, Jamie Gibson, Sam Harrison, Tommy Bell, Christian Loamanu.
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