Preview: Wasps v Leinster

Date published: January 22 2016

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James Haskell and Joe Launchbury return to the starting line-up for Wasps when they take on Leinster in their European quarter-final decider At the Ricoh Arena on Saturday.

Nathan Hughes and Jake Cooper-Woolley have also returned from injury and are named on the bench. Hughes is set to make his first appearance for Wasps since picking up a calf injury in the away win at Bath and Wasps are also boosted by the return of tighthead Cooper-Woolley, who has missed Wasps' last five games.

Sam Jones moves from the blindside flank to number eight, while last Sunday's Man of the Match, Guy Thompson, has been sidelined by the toe injury picked up against Toulon. Having seen a specialist this week, Thompson is unfortunately due to be out for approximately 10-12 weeks.

In the backline, there are starts for former Leinster centre Brendan Macken and winger Josh Bassett.

Sailosi Tagicakibau, Ben Jacobs and Simon McIntyre have all been ruled out of the quarter-final decider through injuries picked up against Toulon last Sunday. Tom Bristow comes onto the bench, ready to make his third appearance for Wasps.

Wasps' Director of Rugby Dai Young said: "Last Sunday was Test Match intensity and a six day turnaround is always tough, so this week has been more about rest and recuperation, making sure we arrive at the Ricoh with a full tank, ready to give it our total focus and hit the ground running.

"There's a European quarter-final at stake on Saturday and I'm sure Leinster will want to come and spoil the party. They were pretty upset after we won in Dublin and I'm sure they will come here wanting to put the record straight. We know we are playing against a wounded animal and you don't win three European titles by accident.

"Leinster have a quality squad with internationals throughout, so we know how tough it's going to be. The big thing for us is to finish strong, with a mentality that only a win will do – it's a real cup final for us."

Meanwhile, Johnny Sexton will run on as captain of Leinster for the first time in what will be his 100th start for the province in 121 appearances.

There are 11 changes in total from the team that beat Bath last time out with only Zane Kirchner, Dave Kearney, Rhys Ruddock and Jordi Murphy retained in the starting XV for the trip to Coventry. 

With Rob Kearney coming in to full-back, Zane Kirchner moves to the right wing from the number 15 slot last week, with Dave Kearney continuing on the left wing.

Noel Reid and Luke Fitzgerald come into the centre with Eoin Reddan and Johnny Sexton selected in the half-backs. 

All three front row players were named in the Irish squad announced on Wednesday with Jack McGrath, Sean Cronin and Marty Moore all starting tomorrow against Wasps. 

Devin Toner and Rhys Ruddock are in the second row as Ruddock starts for the eleventh time this season, playing the full 80 in each game so far. 

In the back row, Dominic Ryan, Jordi Murphy and Jamie Heaslip complete the pack as Leinster look to finish their European campaign on a high. 

The bench includes three players who were named in the Irish Six Nations squad including the 22-year-old uncapped back-rower Josh van der Flier, while Cathal Marsh is in line to make his European debut should he come on. 

Form: Wasps are undefeated when hosting Leinster in the Champions Cup (W2, D1). However, Wasps are in danger of consecutive home losses in the Champions Cup for the first time after a 25-23 loss to Bath in their last home fixture. Leinster haven't won a game away from home in the Champions Cup since October 2014, and haven't won an away game to an English opponent since December 2013. Leinster have scored just 25 points away from home this campaign, the fewest of any team in Pool 5. Charles Piutau has gained the most metres of any player in this season's Champions Cup (455) and has also made the joint most clean breaks (10). Leinster have scored the fewest tries in the competition this season (3) and are yet to score in the 20 minutes either side of half time; Wasps have conceded just one try in that same time.

The teams:

Wasps: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Josh Bassett, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Brendan Macken, 11 Frank Halai, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Joe Simpson 8 Sam Jones, 7 George Smith, 6 James Haskell (c), 5 Bradley Davies, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 2 Edd Shervington, 1 Matt Mullan
Replacements: 16 Ashley Johnson, 17 Tom Bristow, 18 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 19 James Gaskell, 20 Nathan Hughes, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Ruaridh Jackson, 23 Rob Miller

Leinster: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Zane Kirchner, 13 Luke Fitzgerald, 12 Noel Reid, 11 Dave Kearney, 10 Johnny Sexton (c), 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Jordi Murphy, 6 Dominic Ryan, 5 Rhys Ruddock, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Martin Moore, 2 Sean Cronin, 1 Jack McGrath
Replacements: 16 Richardt Strauss, 17 Peter Dooley, 18 Michael Bent, 19 Ross Molony, 20 Josh Van Der Flier, 21 Isaac Boss, 22 Cathal Marsh, 23 Ben Te'o

Date: Saturday, January 23
Venue: Ricoh Arena
Kick-off: 15:15 GMT
Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)
Assistant Referees: Sébastien Minery (France), Thomas Déjean (France)
TMO: Eric Gauzins (France)

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