Preview: Northampton v Wasps

Date published: February 3 2012

Northampton rugby director Jim Mallinder called Saturday's home LV=Cup clash against Wasps a “big game”, when naming his squad.

Northampton Saints rugby director Jim Mallinder called Saturday's LV=Cup clash against London Wasps at Franklin's Gardens a “big game”, when naming his squad.

The Saints top pool four by a single point following last weekend's round of fixtures and therefore need a bonus point win to not just guarantee a place in the semi-finals but also a possible home tie.

And with the Saints still smarting from last Saturday's loss at Bath Mallinder says that a step up will be needed against Wasps tomorrow, a team the Saints boss says deserves respect.

“It's a big game for us,” he said.

“We started the LV= Cup well with two bonus point wins and we need to keep that momentum.

“We need to win to get through and qualify for a semi-final. We don't want weeks off during the season; we want our holidays in the summer.

“That means we've got to win at the weekend, it's as simple as that.

“Wasps will be a difficult proposition. They may be out of the tournament but they've still got everything to play for in terms of getting on track in the league.

“They rested a number of players last week and I think they'll bring a strong side that will be very determined to get back to winning ways.

“They've got some good coaches who will motivate the side, so we can't be under-prepared.

“They will attack us in a number of ways and we've got to make sure we step up and that our defence improves a lot from last week.

“But it's also a good opportunity for us to get back onto winning ways after the past two weeks.

“We've got a number of players back in the side and everyone is very keen to put in a strong performance and get the win we all want,” added Mallinder.

Meanwhile, Wasps are set to hand debuts to their two new Russian recruits.

Having completed their first full week of training with the squad, both Victor Gresev and Vladislav Korshunov have been named in the match day 23 for the clash against Northampton.

Gresev will start at number eight while Korshunov is set to feature from the bench.

Eighteen-year-old Nathan Morris and 19-year-old Will Robinson will also earn their first starts for the club.

Morris starts at hooker, having impressed on a number of occasions from the bench, while Robinson is named in the starting 10 shirt, after performing well from the bench last weekend in his first appearance at Adams Park.

There are eight changes to the team that played Exeter Chiefs in last weekend's LV=Cup game at Adams Park.

In the backs, Hugo Southwell and Richard Haughton start alongside youngster Robinson, while in the forwards, Tim Payne, Morris and Ben Broster come into the side to make up a new-look front row, with Matt Everard and Victor Gresev taking up positions in the back row.

Charlie Davies will once again captain the side.

The teams:

Northampton: 15 Paul Diggin, 14 Jamie Elliott, 13 George Pisi, 12 James Downey, 11 Noah Cato, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Martin Roberts, 8 Roger Wilson, 7 Ben Nutley, 6 Calum Clark (c), 5 Christian Day, 4 James Craig, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Andy Long, 1 Soane Tonga'uiha.
Replacements: 16 Mike Haywood, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Tom Mercey, 19 Mark Sorenson, 20 Samu Manoa, 21 Ryan Glynn, 22 Tom May, 23 Vasily Artemyev.

Wasps: 15 Hugo Southwell, 14 Lee Robinson, 13 Alex Cheesman, 12 Chris Mayor, 11 Richard Haughton, 10 Will Robinson, 9 Charlie Davies (c), 8 Victor Gresev, 7 Matt Everard, 6 Tinus DuPlessis, 5 Ed O'Donoghue, 4 Heinz Koll, 3 Ben Broster, 2 Nathan Morris, 1 Tim Payne.
Replacements: 16 Vladislav Korshunov, 17 Bob Baker, 18 Simon McIntyre, 19 Joe Burton, 20 Sam Jones, 21 Joe Simpson, 22 Nick Robinson, 23 Charlie Ingall.

Date: Saturday, February 4
Kick-off: 15:00
Venue: Franklin's Gardens