Preview: Wasps v Toulouse

Date published: January 13 2017

Wasps boss Dai Young has named his squad to take on Toulouse at the Ricoh Arena this Saturday, with Joe Simpson set to play his 200th game.

Simpson starts at scrum-half alongside Danny Cipriani at 10. Jimmy Gopperth lines up at 12, combining with Elliot Daly in the centre. The back three of Kurtley Beale, Josh Bassett and Christian Wade remain unchanged.

In the pack, Joe Launchbury returns from a calf injury to captain the side and forms a second-row partnership with Kearnan Myall. The same back-row that faced Tigers last Sunday start this Saturday, with Nathan Hughes at number eight and Thomas Young and Guy Thompson on the flanks.

Matt Mullan and Marty Moore again start in Wasps' front-row, joined by Ashley Johnson at hooker. Tommy Taylor has not passed the final return to play protocol following his HIA last Sunday and sits out the game, with Edd Shervington named on the bench as cover. Frank Halai also joins the replacements, with Rob Miller sidelined by an ankle injury.

Ahead of the crunch tie, Young said: "These are the big games players dream of competing in. A must-win clash against the four-time European Champions, in front of a big home crowd, with a place in the European Quarter Finals on the line.

"We have enjoyed our run in the Aviva Premiership, but that will count for nothing as we return to Europe, in what is ultimately a Cup Final for us, with three teams tied on 13 points in Pool 2.

"Toulouse are one of the true giants in European Rugby. Nothing short of an 80-minute performance will be good enough against a team full of internationals. We were pleased with the draw in Toulouse but we need to back that up with a home win on Saturday. It’s a fantastic challenge and one that we are all relishing."

Toulouse are level on points with both Wasps and Connacht in this pool and make three changes to their backline for this away game, with Sébastien Bézy and Jean-Marc Doussain coming in as the half-back combination while Yann David replaces Florian Fritz at outside centre.

It's an all-new front-row as Census Johnston, Christopher Tolofua and Cyril Baille replace Dorian Aldegheri, Leonardo Ghiraldini and Vasil Kakovin respectively while in the back-row Francois Cros is at number eight with Talalelei Gray coming in on the flank.

Form: The Coventry club sit top of Pool 2 but are level on 13 points with Connacht and the four-time champions of Europe, who travel to the Ricoh Arena this weekend. Wasps were cruelly denied victory at the Sportsground last time out, when Jack Carty's conversion of Naulia Dawai's try saw Dai Young's side go down 20-18. Toulouse, who drew 13-13 with Wasps in the reverse fixture, stayed in the quarter-final race with back-to-back bonus-point wins over Zebre. They head back into Champions Cup action on the back of an 18-15 triumph over Stade Francais in Paris, with Yoann Huget crossing for a brace of tries. But Wasps are flying. They have won all three of their matches since their Sportsground heartbreak. And Young has fired up his troops for their must-win Anglo-French fixture.

The teams:

Wasps: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Jimmy Gopperth, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Guy Thompson, 6 Thomas Young, 5 Kearnan Myall, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Martin Moore, 2 Ashley Johnson, 1 Matt Mullan
Replacements: 16 Edd Shervington, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Phil Swainston, 19 Matt Symons, 20 James Gaskell, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Kyle Eastmond, 23 Frank Halai

Toulouse: 15 Maxime Médard, 14 Kunatani Kunabuli, 13 Yann David, 12 Gael Fickou, 11 Yoann Huget, 10 Jean-Marc Doussain, 9 Sébastien Bézy, 8 Francois Cros, 7 Talalelei Gray, 6 Thierry Dusautoir, 5 Joe Tekori, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Census Johnston, 2 Christopher Tolofua, 1 Cyril Baille
Replacements: 16 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 17 Vasil Kakovin, 18 Dorian Aldegheri, 19 Yoann Maestri, 20 Piula Faasalele, 21 Gillian Galan, 22 Toby Flood, 23 Arthur Bonneval

Date: Saturday, January 14
Venue: Ricoh Arena
Kick-off: 15:15 GMT
Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Sean Gallagher (Ireland), Barrie O’Connell (Ireland)
TMO: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland)