Preview: Wasps v Gloucester

Date published: November 6 2015

All Blacks utility back Charles Piutau is set to make his Wasps debut against Gloucester at the Ricoh Arena on Sunday.

Having arrived at the club last week, Piutau joins his former Auckland Blues’ team-mate Frank Halai in the backline. Ben Jacobs returns from a knee strain to line up alongside Elliot Daly in Wasps’ midfield.

Ruaridh Jackson makes his first Premiership start of the season at fly-half, forming a half back partnership with Joe Simpson.

Up front, Simon McIntyre starts at loosehead, in for Matt Mullan, who tweaked a hamstring against Leicester Tigers. Lorenzo Cittadini comes into the front row, alongside Carlo Festuccia. Bradley Davies and Joe Launchbury form the second row partnership while the back row remains unchanged.

“We were frustrated with our performance against Leicester Tigers last weekend, although we know Welford Road is always a difficult place to go and get a win,” said Wasps’ Director of Rugby Dai Young.

“The focus this week will be on looking after the ball better and proving we are a much better team than we showed last week. We’re not a million miles away from everything clicking, it just needs a bit more composure with ball in hand and a little bit more patience.

“Everyone knows how dangerous a team Gloucester are. They have a strong pack and a dangerous attacking back line that can cause even the best defences problems. We will need to be on our mettle again this week and produce a defensive performance with real bite and intensity, like we achieved in our win at the Ricoh against Bath a couple of weeks ago.

“We are all really looking forward to being back at the Ricoh Arena for our second Premiership home game of the season. It’s a fantastic facility, a fantastic sporting arena and we get fantastic support there. We feel we have a responsibility to really stand up and give the crowd what they deserve for the support they have given us, and we will be trying our best to do that again on Sunday.”

Meanwhile Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw is named in the Gloucester starting line-up for the first time this season.

Laidlaw will start at scrum-half in a new look Gloucester half-back partnership, with Billy Burns starting his first game of the season at fly-half. James Hook moves to inside centre.

Meanwhile, in the pack, Elliott Stooke returns to partner Tom Savage in the second row with Sione Kalamafoni, who has packed down in the boiler room for the past two weeks, reverting to his usual position of blindside flanker.

Both teams will be looking to round off the opening phase of Aviva Premiership matches with a victory before heading into European action.

Form: Wasps have won just one of their last five Premiership Rugby matches: 16-9 over Bath at the Ricoh Arena on 24 October. Wasps have not won back-to-back Premiership Rugby encounters at the venue since March. Gloucester’s only defeat in Premiership Rugby so far this season came when they entertained table-topping Saracens in Round Two. Wasps have won their last five Premiership Rugby fixtures against Gloucester since the Cherry and Whites were victorious 29-22 at Kingsholm in September 2012. Gloucester have won only twice on Wasps soil in any competition since 1990: both in Premiership Rugby at Adams Park in 2008 and 2011. Gloucester have however won a game at the Ricoh Arena – having beaten Ospreys there 17-0 in the semi-final of the Anglo-Welsh Cup in March 2009.

The teams:

Wasps: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Ben Jacobs, 11 Christian Wade, 10 Ruaridh Jackson, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 George Smith, 6 James Haskell (c), 5 Bradley Davies, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 2 Carlo Festuccia, 1 Simon McIntyre.
Replacements: 16 Ashley Johnson, 17 Tom Bristow, 18 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 19 James Gaskell, 20 Guy Thompson, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Alex Lozowski, 23 Sailosi Tagicakibau.

Gloucester: 15 Charlie Sharples, 14 David Halaifonua, 13 Billy Twelvetrees (c), 12 James Hook, 11 Jonny May, 10 Billy Burns, 9 Greig Laidlaw, 8 Ben Morgan 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Sione Kalamafoni, 5 Elliott Stooke, 4 Tom Savage, 3 John Afoa, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Paddy McAllister.
Replacements: 16 Chris Brooker, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 Paul Doran-Jones, 19 Ross Moriarty, 20 Jacob Rowan, 21 Willi Heinz, 22 Henry Purdy, 23 Rob Cook.

Date: Sunday, November 8
Venue: Ricoh Arena
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Referee: Ian Tempest
Assistant referees: Darren Gamage, Robin Goodliffe
TMO: David Sainsbury