Wasps boss Dai Young has made three changes to his starting line-up for Sunday's Premiership visit of Exeter to Adams Park.
London Wasps boss Dai Young has made three changes to his starting line-up for Sunday's Premiership visit of Exeter Chiefs to Adams Park.
The changes see Joe Simpson start at scrum-half, forcing Charlie Davies to the bench, while Rory Pitman starts at number eight and Guy Thompson starts at seven, replacing the injured Sam Jones and James Haskell.
The fixture will see sixth placed Chiefs do battle with seventh placed Wasps and Young said that no one is under any illusions about the size of the challenge.
“We need to keep in contention with the top six and, with Exeter just above us in the table, this game gives us a chance to do that,” said Young.
“Exeter are a very good, well organised team with a very good set piece and they will play from all areas of the field and will certainly test our defence as well as our resolve.”
Meanwhile, Exeter Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter is confident he will see a response from his side a week after going down 22-6 to Harlequins.
“We were a little bit disappointed with our level of performance last week and we didn't quite deal with the day as well as we could have done,” said Baxter.
“We've talked about it all this week and we'll definitely learn from it. At the same time, we have had a good focus week – in what has been some testing conditions – and I get the feeling the guys are really looking forward to getting up to Wasps.”
Ahead of kick-off, Baxter has made a number of changes to his line-up from that which took on Harlequins a week ago. Into the pack come Chris Whitehead and James Hanks ahead of Jack Yeandle and Damian Welch, whilst there is also a new half-back pairing with Dave Lewis recalled in place of the injured Haydn Thomas and Henry Slade handed his first-ever Premiership start ahead of Gareth Steenson.
Meanwhile on the bench, prop Brett Sturgess – injured in the final minute of last week's game – is replaced by Carl Rimmer and Sam Hill is preferred to Tongan international Fetu'u Vainikolo as the outside back replacement.
Form: London Wasps have lost just one of their last five fixtures in all tournaments: 15-17 at home to Northampton in Aviva Premiership Rugby on December 21. Wasps last five encounters in the Premiership have all in fact been won by the away side on the day – their most recent victory at Adams Park in the tournament being 22-12 over Leicester in Round Six. Exeter Chiefs only victory in their last seven contests in all tournaments was 16-3 at home to Newcastle in the Premiership in Round 10. The Chiefs have not been victorious on the road since an 18-16 win at Sale on November 1. Exeter Chiefs have won their last seven matches against London Wasps in all tournaments, with the Londoners only Premiership success over the Devonians being 24-12 at Adams Park in December 2010.
Wasps: 15 Elliot Daly, 14 Will Helu, 13 Chris Bell (c), 12 Charlie Hayter, 11 Tom Varndell, 10 Andy Goode, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Rory Pitman, 7 Guy Thompson, 6 Ashley Johnson, 5 Joe Launchbury, 4 Tom Palmer, 3 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 2 Carlo Festuccia, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements: 16 Tom Lindsay, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Will Taylor, 19 Kearnan Myall, 20 Ed Jackson, 21 Charlie Davies, 22 Joe Carlisle, 23 Andrew Suniula.
Exeter: 15 Luke Arscott, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Ian Whitten, 12 Jason Shoemark, 11 Tom James, 10 Henry Slade, 9 Dave Lewis, 8 Dave Ewers, 7 Ben White, 6 Tom Johnson, 5 James Hanks, 4 Dean Mumm (c), 3 Hoani Tui, 2 Chris Whitehead, 1 Ben Moon.
Replacements: 16 Jack Yeandle, 17 Carl Rimmer, 18 Alex Brown, 19 Damian Welch, 20 Kai Horstmann, 21 Will Chudley, 22 Gareth Steenson, 23 Sam Hill.
Date: Sunday, January 5
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Venue: Adams Park
Referee: Andrew Small
Assistant referees: Andy Watson, Stuart Terheege.
Television match official: Graham Hughes