Preview: Wasps v Harlequins

Date published: December 2 2011

Harlequins are managing a number of injuries within the squad, but have named a strong line-up to tackle London Wasps.

Harlequins are managing a number of injuries within the squad, but have named a strong line-up to tackle London Wasps at Adams Park on Sunday.

Mike Brown, Seb Stegmann and Sam Smith continue to form a prolific back three.

Matt Hopper will be partnered at centre by Tom Casson with Jordan Turner Hall recovering from the cheek injury he sustained last week. Turner-Hall is expected to be out for four weeks. Nick Evans continues at fly-half outside Danny Care.

Joe Gray comes back into the starting line-up rotating with Chris Brooker who drops to the bench. Joe Marler and James Johnston complete the front row. Tomas Vallejos is partnered in the second row by Charlie Matthews who replaces George Robson who has a sore calf.

The back row sees captain Chris Robshaw move to number eight in place of Nick Easter who was injured at the weekend, with Luke Wallace starting at seven alongside Mo Fa'asavalu.

Other injuries at number eight at the club include Tom Guest – who has now returned to full training – and Chris York, who is still some way off returning.

The bench sees Mark Lambert continue his return from injury alongside Kyle Sinckler; who replaces Tim Fairbrother – who is still struggling with a hamstring injury – as front row replacements.

Pete Browne comes onto the bench after his first outing of the season in the Monday night “A” league game at Exeter, covering the back five of the scrum alongside Will Skinner.

Ugo Monye comes back from his injury sustained against Worcester in Round Four of the Aviva Premiership and is on the bench covering the outside backs with Richard Bolt and Benjamin Urdapilleta covering at halfback, with Rory Clegg rested following a knock picked up in Monday's match.

Meanwhile, Wasps centre Riki Flutey has recovered from injury which has kept him out of the last two games to take his place in a pacey Wasps back-line to play Harlequins.

Flutey is joined in the centre by Dom Waldouck as the duo pair up for the first time this season, and they line-up inside the familiar back-three of Christian Wade, Tom Varndell and Hugo Southwell.

Joe Simpson starts this weekend alongside Nick Robinson and there's just one pack change, with Ed O'Donoghue coming into the second row in the absence of Ross Filipo.

After defeat to London Irish at the Madejski last weekend, Wasps are back at Adams Park. But with Harlequins on an impressive run of unbeaten form, it will take a huge effort from Dai Young's side – who currently sit just three points off the top four.

“Harlequins will provide us a very tough test, they are not top of the table for no reason. We know the brand of rugby that they play and if we do not meet it full force we will be in for a long afternoon,” said Young.

“Looking after the ball and being very accurate in everything we do are key for us this weekend, because we won't get many chances to score so when we do we must take them.”

Form: London Wasps have slipped to successive defeats in the Aviva Premiership against Northampton and London Irish. Wasps' only win in their last three Premiership encounters at Adams Park was 27-24 over Bath on October 9. Table topping Harlequins imperious start to the 2011/12 campaign continues apace with a ninth successive Premiership victory – only Newcastle, who won their opening 12 games in the 1997/98 season have made a better start to a Premiership season. Wasps are winless in their last four clashes with Harlequins in all competitions, but Quins have not visited Adams Park since January 2009, a venue where they have won only once before: 25-21 in the Premiership on 10 May 2003.

The teams:

Wasps: 15 Hugo Southwell, 14 Tom Varndell, 13 Dominic Waldouck, 12 Riki Flutey, 11 Christian Wade, 10 Nick Robinson, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 John Hart (c), 7 Matt Everard, 6 Richard Birkett, 5 Marco Wentzel, 4 Ed O'Donoghue, 3 Ben Broster, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Tim Payne.
Replacements: 16 Tom Lindsay, 17 Zak Taulafo, 18 Jeremy Castex, 19 Joe Burton, 20 Sam Jones, 21 Charlie Davies, 22 Ryan Davis, 23 Elliot Daly.

Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Seb Stegmann, 13 Matt Hopper, 12 Tom Casson, 11 Sam Smith, 10 Nick Evans, 8 Chris Robshaw (c), 7 Luke Wallace, 6 Maurie Fa'asavalu, 5 Charlie Matthews, 4 Tomas Vallejos, 3 James Johnston, 2 Joe Gray, 1 Joe Marler
Replacements: 16 Chris Brooker, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 Pete Browne, 20 Will Skinner, 21 Richard Bolt, 22 Ben Urdapilleta, 23 Ugo Monye.

Date: Sunday, December 4
Venue: Adams Park
Kick-off: 16:00 GMT
Referee: Dean Richards