Planet Rugby

Preview: Wasps v Saracens

10th February 2012 13:03

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john smit

John Smit: Takes over captaincy

Saracens return to Aviva Premiership action on Sunday with a trip to Adams Park to face the struggling Wasps.

In team news ahead of the Round 14 clash, Alex Goode and Andy Saull both return to the team after international duty and are named in the starting line-up.

With Steve Borthwick and Ernst Joubert ruled out through injury, former Springbok skipper John Smit captain's the side from the front row.

On the bench, both Neil de Kock and Schalk Brits return from injury.

Hooker Brits has recovered from the shoulder injury he sustained on New Year's Day, while scrum-half De Kock gets his first action for three months following a broken arm.

Prop Rhys Gill is also back in the squad after being part of the Wales side that beat Ireland in the Six Nations last weekend and Joel Tomkins is set for a Premiership debut following his cross-code switch from Wigan Warriors in November.

Meanwhile, there are 10 changes to the London Wasps starting line-up this weekend as Dai Young reverts to his strongest possible side.

Wasps are aiming to do the double over the reigning champions having beaten them at Twickenham on the opening day of the season.

Into the team this weekend come a raft of players who were rested or unavailable for LV=Cup action including Riki Flutey, Dom Waldouck, Marco Wentzel and Jonathan Poff.

Having made a full return to fitness, fly-half Nick Robinson starts his first game since New Year's Day.

On the bench capped Welsh youngster Tom Prydie will appear in his first Wasps match-day squad having arrived on loan from the Ospreys last month.

Scrum-half Joe Simpson, who is with England as a non-playing reserve in Italy, will be released from national duties on Saturday to return to Wasps and he takes his place on the bench in a big boost to the match-day squad.

"This Sunday begins an important period of four Aviva Premiership games but our focus is fully on taking on an extremely dangerous Saracens side," said Young.

"Even though they are missing some players, they will come to Adams Park pretty confident. They have an excellent squad and I know that players coming in are just as dangerous to an opposition because they want to keep hold of the shirt.

"For our part I am pleased that we were able to give a number of players a much needed break in the past few weeks and they have come back and put in a really strong week of training. We're looking forward to this game."

In other player news - Chris Mayor this week underwent surgery for an injured thumb and is likely to be out of action for up to three months.

Form: London Wasps are the poorest team in Aviva Premiership Rugby on current form, having secured just three league points from their last six matches. In 25 seasons of league rugby Wasps have never lost seven successive matches. Saracens are unbeaten in their last nine matches in all competitions since their 8-30 reversal at Northampton in the Premiership on 26 November. Saracens secured a first ever win at Adams Park on their last visit in February 2011. Wasps beat Saracens 20-15 at Twickenham in the London Double Header on 3 September but have not achieved a Premiership double over Sarries since season 2006/07.

The teams:

London Wasps: 15 Hugo Southwell, 14 Richard Haughton, 13 Dom Waldouck, 12 Riki Flutey, 11 Elliot Daly, 10 Nick Robinson, 9 Nic Berry, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Jonathan Poff, 6 Richard Birkett, 5 Marco Wentzel (c), 4 Ed O'Donoghue, 2 Ben Broster, 2 Tom Lindsay, 1 Tim Payne.
Replacements: 16 Vladislav Korshunov, 17 Zak Taulafo, 18 Simon McIntyre, 19 Heinz Koll, 20 Sam Jones, 21 Joe Simpson, 22 Ryan Davis, 23 Tom Prydie.

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Duncan Taylor, 13 Chris Wyles, 12 Adam Powell, 11 James Short, 10 Nils Mordt, 9 Peter Stringer, 8 Jackson Wray, 7 Andy Saull, 6 Justin Melck, 5 Hayden Smith, 4 George Kruis, 3 Carlos Nieto, 2 Jamie George, 1 John Smit.
Replacements: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Rhys Gill, 18 Petrus du Plessis, 19 Hugh Vyvyan, 20 Will Fraser, 21 Neil de Kock, 22 Joel Tomkins, 23 Michael Tagicakibau.

Date: Sunday, February 12
Venue: Adams Park
Kick-off: 13:15 GMT
Referee: Martin Fox

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