Planet Rugby

Preview: Wasps v Harlequins

06th September 2013 10:37

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Five players will make their starting debuts for London Wasps when they take on Harlequins at the London Double Header on Saturday.

Andy Goode, Matt Mullan, Jake Cooper-Woolley, Guy Thompson and Ed Jackson will all start for Dai Young's side, with Sam Jones captaining the team in the absence of Chris Bell, who hasn't quite recovered from a minor infection.

Andrea Masi fills the full-back shirt flanked by Christian Wade and Tom Varndell on the wings. Charlie Hayter and Ben Jacobs, in his second stint at the club, are the centre pairing, while Goode and Joe Simpson are the half-backs.

Mullan packs down with Tom Lindsay and youngster Cooper-Woolley, who has impressed in pre-season, with Joe Launchbury and Tom Palmer forming the second-row partnership.

Jones skippers the side on the blindside flank, alongside two newcomers, Jackson and Thompson who have both been hugely impressive since joining in the off-season.

"After what has been a long but hugely productive pre-season period, everyone at the club is excited to get the competitive matches underway this weekend," said Young.

"The intensity in training over the last couple of weeks has noticeably increased as we have neared the start of the new season and everyone in the squad has been keen to state their case for a starting shirt.

"This weekend we face a very accomplished side in the form of Harlequins who will test our systems extensively. We know that it will take the new players we have and the new systems we have introduced a while to bed in, but we showed last year the talent that we have at this club and we are looking forward to trying to build on that."

Meanwhile, Paul Sackey and Academy member George Merrick make their competitive debuts for Harlequins on the wing and in the second-row respectively on Saturday.

In the backs, Mike Brown starts at full-back with Ugo Monye on the wing. George Lowe, who signed a contract extension this week to keep him at the club until 2016, is named in the centres with Jordan Turner-Hall, while Danny Care and Nick Evans complete the backline.

Will Collier starts at tighthead prop with Joe Gray and Joe Marler forming the front-row.

George Robson partners Merrick in the second-row, while Luke Wallace, Nick Easter and captain, Chris Robshaw make up the back-row.

Among the replacements, new signing Paul Doran Jones is named while Charlie Walker, Ben Botica and Karl Dickson cover the backline.

Players unavailable for selection include Tom Williams and Sam Smith, who are out with short term injuries. Both are expected to be available for the A team game on Monday night against London Irish. The more long term injuries include Nick Kennedy who exacerbated a knee condition in pre-season which has required surgery.

Kennedy is expected to return alongside Charlie Matthews (shoulder) in November. Ollie Lindsay Hague (shoulder) and Ross Chisholm (knee) picked up injuries playing in the JP Morgan 7's and will be available for selection in December and May (2014) respectively.

Form: London Wasps have a won 4, drawn 1, lost 3 record in previous London Double Headers. Wasps only win at Twickenham in their last five visits was 20-15 in the 2011 London Double Header against Saracens. Wasps have lost their last eight matches in all competitions - their poorest run of the professional era. Harlequins have lost just one of their past six London Double Headers: 15-26 to London Wasps in 2009. Quins only defeat in their last seven visits to Twickenham was 11-19 on 27 December 2011. Wasps 17-16 victory at the Twickenham Stoop in Aviva Premiership Rugby last February ended a seven game winless run against Harlequins in all competitions, whilst their three previous encounters in the London Double Header have been evenly split with a win apiece plus a draw.

The teams:

London Wasps: 15 Andrea Masi, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Ben Jacobs, 12 Charlie Hayter, 11 Tom Varndell, 10 Andy Goode, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Ed Jackson, 7 Guy Thompson, 6 Sam Jones (capt), 5 Tom Palmer, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 2 Tom Lindsay, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements: 16 Neil Cochrane, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Will Taylor, 19 James Cannon, 20 Ashley Johnson, 21 Charlie Davies, 22 Joe Carlisle, 23 Tommy Bell.

Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Paul Sackey, 13 George Lowe, 12 Jordan Turner-Hall, 11 Ugo Monye, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Danny Care, 8 Nick Easter, 7 Chris Robshaw (capt), 6 Luke Wallace, 5 George Robson, 4 George Merrick, 3 Will Collier, 2 Joe Gray, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Rob Buchanan, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Paul Doran Jones, 19 Maurie Fa'asavalu, 20 Tom Guest, 21 Karl Dickson, 22 Ben Botica, 23 Charlie Walker.

Date: Saturday, September 7
Venue: Twickenham Stadium
Kick-off: 16.30 BST (15.30 GMT)
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth

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