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Preview: Wasps v Harlequins

31st August 2012 10:56

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SKY_MOBILE Nick Evans - Harlequins - 12/5/12

Nick Evans: One hundredth game for Quins

Nick Evans will make his 100th appearance for Harlequins when they open the defence of their Aviva Premiership title against Wasps in the London Double Header at Twickenham.

Harlequins fly-half Nick Evans will make his one hundredth appearance when his side opens the defence of their title against London Wasps.

The former All-Black joined Harlequins in 2008 and, since making his debut against Saracens, has accumulated over 1 000 points for the club.

Both Mike Brown and captain, Chris Robshaw start after recovering from injury while on international duty with England and take their familiar roles at full-back and flanker respectively.

Matt Hopper starts at outside centre, partnering Jordan Turner-Hall. Turner-Hall's regular centre partner, George Lowe lines up on the wing.

The forwards are unchanged from the eight that lined up in the Premiership final in May. Ben Botica, who joined the club in July, is named among the replacements.

Meanwhile, Italians Andrea Masi and Fabio Staibano will make their competitive debuts for Wasps.

Wasps' director of rugby Dai Young's starting XV also features a return for James Haskell after a three-year break since his last appearance in the black and gold shirt.

Led by captain Hugo Southwell, Young has named a side full of experience and a feature of the squad this weekend is a bench full of impact and talent with summer signings Ashley Johnson and Tom Palmer among the new faces.

Young said he was presented with a welcome selection headache this week.

"There were some pretty tough decisions to be made in a number of spots, but that is a great position to be in," he said.

"Harlequins present the toughest possible start for us and we will rightly go into the game as firm underdogs.

"It will take us some time to gel as a team but we're going into Saturday with a solid pre-season campaign under our belts and we're looking for a big performance."

Young added that the competition for places in the Wasps squad would only get more intense in the weeks ahead.

"There are a few guys still out who we hope to bring back into the mix next weekend.

"Stephen Jones has been struggling over the past couple of weeks with his back and Lee Thomas with a strain in his knee; but we are hoping they will be available for the second game.

"We haven't considered Chris Bell or James Bailey either for this game with both almost recovered from their injuries, but again that's another two to add to our options very soon."

Form: London Wasps have a won 4, drawn 1, lost 3 record in previous London Double Headers and are unbeaten in the last three, whilst defending Champions, Harlequins, have a very even W3, D1, L3 record in previous London Double Headers. Wasps concluded their last campaign with four straight Premiership defeats. Harlequins lost just one of their final eight matches in the competition: 33-43 against Leicester at the Twickenham Stoop on 21 April. Quins have won their last five meetings with Wasps in all competitions, and have lost on just one of their last five visits to Twickenham.

Rugby Union betting odds

The teams:

London Wasps: 15 Hugo Southwell (c), 14 Christian Wade, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Andrea Masi, 11 Tom Varndell, 10 Nick Robinson, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Jonathan Poff, 6 James Haskell, 5 Joe Launchbury, 4 Marco Wentzel, 3 Fabio Staibano, 2 Tom Lindsay, 1 Tim Payne.
Replacements: 16 T Rhys Thomas, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Zak Taulafo, 19 Tom Palmer, 20 Ashley Johnson, 21 Nic Berry, 22 Tommy Bell, 23 Chris Mayor.

Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Tom Williams, 13 Matt Hopper, 12 Jordan Turner-Hall, 11 George Lowe, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Danny Care, 8 Nick Easter, 7 Chris Robshaw (c), 6 Maurie Fa'asavalu, 5 George Robson, 4 Olly Kohn, 3 James Johnston, 2 Joe Gray, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Rob Buchanan, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Will Collier, 19 Charlie Matthews, 20 Tom Guest, 21 Karl Dickson, 22 Ben Botica, 23 Ross Chisholm.

Date: Saturday, September 1
Venue: Twickenham
Kick-off: 14.00 BST (13.00 GMT)
Referee: Greg Garner

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