Preview: Wasps v Worcester

Date published: January 1 2012

Samoa back row Ezra Taylor will make his club debut as Worcester travel to Adams Park to face London Wasps on New Year's Day.

Samoa international back row Ezra Taylor will make his club debut as Worcester Warriors travel to Adams Park to face London Wasps on New Year's Day.

Taylor arrived at Sixways just prior to Christmas and is now given the number eight jersey as Head Coach Richard Hill makes five changes to his starting line-up.

The selection of Taylor is one of four changes in the pack as hooker Aleki Lutui and prop Oliver Tomaszczyk both win call-ups in the front row.

The versatile Chris Jones moves back to the second row as Taylor moves into the back row alongside Matt Kvesic.

Scrum-half Jonny Arr is the one change in the backs as he teams up with Joe Carlisle at half back.

“We are looking forward to seeing Ezra in action for us. He is an international player who has featured for both the Highlanders and Reds in Super 15 and Connacht in the Magners League so he is very keen to make an impression in the English game,” said Hill.

“We were very disappointed by our opening 20 minutes against Leicester Tigers so it is imperative we produce a better opening at London Wasps, a team who we know will look to fly out of the traps.”

Meanwhile, Wasps welcome back influential flanker Jonathan Poff in the number seven shirt after six weeks out through injury.

He is joined in the backrow by new signing Tinus Du Plessis and Sam Jones, who wears the number eight shirt for the first time this season having impressed off the bench last weekend.

There are five changes in all to the starting line-up with Tom Varndell and Dom Waldouck also back in the starting line-up this weekend – the latter having recovered from a knock which kept him out of the Gloucester game.

Richard Haughton shifts to full-back with Hugo Southwell ruled out this weekend, while Richard Birkett is moved back into the second-row to make way for Du Plessis on the flank.

“I'm looking for a big reaction from the players after last week's performance which was disappointing for everyone,” said Director of Rugby Dai Young.

“Worcester are a physical powerful outfit and we've been working hard this week preparing for what's going to be a tough Aviva Premiership match. We need a bit more muscle at the breakdown so it's good for us to be able to bring in someone fresh like Tinus and Jonathan coming back in on the other flank is also a big boost for us.”

Form: London Wasps have slipped to four successive defeats in Aviva Premiership Rugby – they haven't lost five in a row in the tournament since season 2001/02. Wasps only two home victories at Adams Park since early October were both in the European Challenge Cup, against Rovigo and Bayonne. Worcester Warriors' only victory in their last six Premiership encounters was 16-7 at home to Bath on 25 November. The Warriors have not won away from home in the Premiership since they visited Gloucester on 21 April 2009. Worcester's most recent Premiership victories over Wasps came in season 2008/09, when they took both encounters including an 11-10 win at Adams Park – their only triumph at the venue to date.

Rugby Union betting odds

The teams:

London Wasps: 15 Richard Haughton, 14 Tom Varndell, 13 Dom Waldouck, 12 Riki Flutey, 11 Christian Wade, 10 Nick Robinson, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Sam Jones, 7 Jonathan Poff, 6 Tinus Du Plessis, 5 Marco Wentzel (capt), 4 Richard Birkett, 3 Ben Broster, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Tim Payne.
Replacements: 16 Tom Lindsay, 17 Bob Baker, 18 Jeremy Castex, 19 Ed O'Donoghue, 20 Matt Everard, 21 Nic Berry, 22 Ryan Davis, 23 Elliot Daly.

Worcester Warriors: 15 Chris Pennell (c), 14 Marcel Garvey, 13 Alex Grove, 12 Dale Rasmussen, 11 Miles Benjamin, 10 Joe Carlisle, 9 Jonny Arr, 8 Ezra Taylor, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Sam Betty, 5 Chris Jones, 4 James Percival, 3 Oliver Tomaszczyk, 2 Aleki Lutui, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements: 16 Bruce Douglas, 17 Ed Shervington, 18 Tevita Taumoepeau, 19 Ben Gulliver, 20 Jake Abbott, 21 Shaun Perry, 22 Andy Goode, 23 Ravai Fatiaki.