Preview: Wasps v Leicester

Date published: March 11 2016

Wasps director of rugby Dai Young has named a strong matchday squad to take on Leicester Tigers at the Ricoh Arena on Saturday.

The back-line is unchanged from the side that lost to Gloucester last Saturday. In the front row, there are starts for loosehead Simon McIntyre and hooker Ashley Johnson, while Jake Cooper-Woolley again packs down at tighthead.

James Cannon and Kearnan Myall form the second row partnership, while Thomas Young has recovered from last weekend’s illness to take his place in the back row alongside Sam Jones and George Smith, who skippers the side.

Dai Young said: “Whenever and wherever you play Leicester Tigers, you know you will always be in for a tough game.

“This match has huge relevance when it comes to the Premiership table, but to be honest, Wasps v Tigers games always have huge significance anyway.

“These two clubs go back a long way and now of course there’s an extra bit of spice with it being a new Midlands derby, so that adds to this fixture as well.

“The next two home games are massive – Leicester Tigers followed by Sale Sharks on back-to-back weekends at the Ricoh Arena.  Seven points separate the three teams, with Sale having a game in hand, so these next two weeks will have a big bearing on overall standings this season.”

Meanwhile, Mathew Tait and Matt Smith return to the Leicester Tigers starting line-up for this fixture.

Full-back Tait withdrew in the warm-up ahead of last weekend’s bonus-point win over second-placed Exeter Chiefs but has recovered from a groin injury in time to start at the Ricoh Arena.

Smith joins Peter Betham at midfield in the absence of Manu Tuilagi who is with the England squad to face Wales.

There is one change among the replacements, where on-loan prop Ellis Genge could make his Tigers debut after being included in the matchday squad for a first time.

George Tresidder continues as scrum-half cover with Sam Harrison ruled out by injury.

Form: Wasps continue to be the best team in the Premiership on current form despite their 10-13 reversal at Gloucester on Saturday. Wasps have picked up 23 out of a possible 30 in their last six games and have not lost at Ricoh Arena in any tournament in 2016. Leicester Tigers have secured successive maximum point wins, the first time they have achieved this since the end of the 2013/14 season. Away from home the Tigers only victory so far in 2016 came when they visited Gloucester on 30 January and won 19-18. Leicester have won their last four encounters with Wasps since their 22-12 defeat at Adams Park in Aviva Premiership Rugby in October 2013.

The teams:

Wasps: 15 Rob Miller, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Charles Piutau, 12 Siale Piutau, 11 Frank Halai, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Sam Jones, 7 George Smith (c), 6 Thomas Young, 5 Kearnan Myall, 4 James Cannon, 3 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 2 Ashley Johnson, 1 Simon McIntyre
Replacements: 16 Edd Shervington, 17 Matt Mullan, 18 Phil Swainston, 19 Will Rowlands, 20 Nathan Hughes, 21 Jamie Stevenson, 22 Alex Lozowski, 23 Brendan Macken

Leicester: 15 Mathew Tait, 14 Adam Thompstone, 13 Peter Betham, 12 Matt Smith, 11 Vereniki Goneva, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Jono Kitto, 8 Ed Slater (c), 7 Lachlan McCaffrey, 6 Tom Croft, 5 Dom Barrow, 4 Mike Fitzgerald, 3 Logovi’i Mulipola, 2 Harry Thacker, 1 Marcos Ayerza
Replacements: 16 Michael van Vuuren, 17 Ellis Genge, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Graham Kitchener, 20 Mike Williams 21 George Tresidder, 22 Owen Williams, 23 Telusa Veainu

Date: Saturday, March 12
Venue: Ricoh Arena
Kick-off: 13:45 GMT
Referee: Greg Garner
Assistant Referees: Ashley Rowden, Paul Burton
TMO: Trevor Fisher