Preview: Wasps v Leicester Tigers

Date published: January 6 2017

Director of Rugby Dai Young has named his side to face Leicester Tigers at the Ricoh Arena this Sunday.

There are welcome returns from long-term injury for James Haskell and Simon McIntyre, who are named on Wasps’ bench.

Haskell is set to make his first appearance in black and gold this season, following the toe injury sustained during England’s tour of Australia. McIntyre returns after three months sidelined by an ankle injury, picked up against Saracens in October.

There are three changes to the starting fifteen that secured a bonus-point win at Newcastle last weekend, with Kurtley Beale, Jimmy Gopperth and Kearnan Myall all set to start when Leicester Tigers make the trip to Coventry this Sunday.

Beale lines up at full-back, with Gopperth named at fly-half. Christian Wade and Josh Bassett again run out on the wing, Elliot Daly and Kyle Eastmond continue their partnership in midfield and Dan Robson starts in the nine shirt.

In the pack, Kearnan Myall’s addition sees him link up with Matt Symons in the second row, with the back row of Thomas Young, Guy Thompson and Nathan Hughes unchanged. The front row of Marty Moore, Tommy Taylor and Matt Mullan, who captains the side, is also without change.

Speaking ahead of Leicester Tigers’ visit to the Ricoh Arena this Sunday, Director of Rugby Dai Young said, “Wasps against Leicester is always a big game and this Sunday is no different.  The clubs have enjoyed healthy rivalry over the decades and there is a little bit of added spice now we are also neighbours, both battling it out to finish in the top part of the table come the end of the season.

“We’ve worked hard to get to the top of the table at the turn of the year, but it’s at the end of the season you really want to be up there, rather than halfway through. There are still a lot of things we have to improve on and that’s our aim this weekend, to improve our performance and put in a display we’re proud of, against what is always a really tough Tigers side.”

Meanwhile, Aaron Mauger has announced his first Leicester Tigers team selection ahead of Sunday’s Premiership fixture away to Wasps.

Head coach Mauger, in charge following the departure of director of rugby Richard Cockerill this week, makes one change in the backline and one in the forwards from the team that started against Saracens on New Year’s Day.

With Manu Tuilagi ruled out for the rest of the season by a knee injury, Tom Brady starts on the wing as Peter Betham reverts to centre alongside Jack Roberts.

Flanker Will Evans comes in to start in the back row, with Brendon O’Connor moving to number eight this week.

Matt Smith will be looking to add to his 191 appearances for the club as he returns to the matchday squad for the first time since suffering an ankle injury in the Anglo-Welsh Cup win at Bath in November.

“Our guys are excited by the challenge of going to Wasps this week,” said Mauger. “It has been an emotional week but the focus has been good, the intensity has been good in training and we have to make sure we are up for it against a good Wasps side.”

Form: Wasps have lost just one of their last six first team matches: 18-20 in Connacht in Round 4 of the Champions Cup. Wasps have won their last 18 matches at the Ricoh Arena in all tournaments and have only dropped one possible league point there in any tournament this season when scoring only three tries in their 25-20 eclipsing of Exeter in Round 1 of Premiership Rugby. Leicester Tigers only victory in their last four first team games was 18-16 at home to Munster in the Champions Cup, during which time they have scored just two tries but conceded ten. The Tigers have a won three lost three record on the road in Premiership Rugby this season. Wasps beat Leicester 34-22 at Welford Road in Round 2 and have not achieved a Premiership Rugby double over their now near neighbours since 2008-09. Wasps have lost just once at home to the Tigers since 2007: 21-26 at the Ricoh Arena in May 2015.

The teams:

Wasps: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Guy Thompson, 6 Thomas Young, 5 Kearnan Myall, 4 Matt Symons, 3 Marty Moore, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Matt Mullan (c)
Replacements: 16 Ashley Johnson, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Phil Swainston, 19 James Gaskell, 20 James Haskell, 21 Joe Simpson, 22 Danny Cipriani, 23 Rob Miller

Leicester Tigers: 15 Freddie Burns, 14 Adam Thompstone, 13 Peter Betham, 12 Jack Roberts, 11 Tom Brady, 10 Owen Williams, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Brendon O’Connor, 7 Will Evans, 6 Mike Williams, 5 Mike Fitzgerald, 4 Ed Slater, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs (c), 1 Ellis Genge
Replacements: 16 George McGuigan, 17 Greg Bateman, 18 Pat Cilliers, 19 Graham Kitchener, 20 Lachlan McCaffrey, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 George Worth, 23 Matt Smith

Date: Sunday, January 8
Venue: Ricoh Arena
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Assistant Referees: Peter Allan, Jack Makepeace
TMO: Stuart Terheege