Wasps relishing Leinster challenge
April 5, 2013
London Wasps will hope Christian Wade is in try-scoring mood against Leinster in the Amlin Challenge Cup on Friday © Getty Images
Wasps entertain Heineken Cup champions Leinster at Adams Park in the Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-final. Wasps have named Marco Wentzel as skipper for the match and he will pack down alongside Tom Palmer with Joe Launchbury shifted to blindside. Nick Robinson gets the nod at fly-half with Ashley Johnson at No.8.
Dai Young is relishing the chance to see his side come up against the Irish giants and said: "There's been a great buzz around the club this week and everyone's looking forward to testing ourselves against one of the best sides in European rugby. Leinster have been incredibly consistent over the last few years and this is a big challenge for our developing side but one everyone us up for."
Leinster include Gordon D'Arcy at inside centre while Rob Kearney starts at fullback with Isa Nacewa on the wing. In the pack, Devin Toner starts alongside Leo Cullen while Jamie Heaslip and Sean O'Brien take their places in the back-row.
While the Adams Park clash is taking place, Perpignan host Toulouse in the third quarter-final in the Stade Aime Giral. Perpignan name James Hook at fly-half while Alasdair Strokosch lines up at openside. Henry Tuilagi skippers the side from No.8 while Luke Narraway will look to provide some impact from the bench. Toulouse have named a pacey backline with Maxime Medard partnered by Yves Donguy and Timoci Matanavou in the back three while Lionel Beauxis links up with Luke Burgess at half-back. In the pack, the likes of Thierry Dusautoir and Yannick Nyanga miss out.
"There's lots of things to concern us," Toulouse player-coach William Servat said. "A few years ago Perpignan had an excellent coach (Jacques Brunel) who led them to the title. Under his leadership, they learned a lot and now today their new coach, Marc Delpoux, has brought his expertise and grew the team further."
Come Saturday and the Challenge Cup focus will switch to the Recreation Ground where Bath play host to Stade Francais in the final knockout match of the weekend.
Bath recall Nick Abendanon, Tom Biggs, Ben Skirving and former Stade Francais man Simon Taylor for the match. Abendanon will start on the right wing, with Biggs on the opposite flank and Ollie Devoto retained at fullback. Argentine international Horacio Agulla moves inside to replace the injured Matt Banahan at centre, where he will partner Kyle Eastmond.
In the pack Taylor will make his first appearance since December following a knee injury. The Scot will start on the blindside flank and makes up a back-row that features Ben Skirving at No.8 and Springbok Francois Louw on the openside.
"You look around this weekend, and a lot of clubs have got nothing, but we are here and preparing for a European quarter-final against one of the biggest clubs in Europe over the years," Bath skipper Stuart Hooper said. "Everyone is really excited about it and itching to get out there in front of the home support."
Stade meanwhile recall a host of big names following their 44-11 loss to Toulon under the closed roof of the Grand Stade de Lille last weekend.
Italy captain Sergio Parisse is back to lead the side from No.8 and former Australia international David Lyons joins him in the back-row, along with Pierre Rabadan. In the backs veteran Jerome Fillol starts at scrum-half, while Samoa international Paul Williams will have the job of trying to contain Kyle Eastmond at inside-centre.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The All Blacks' form is not a peaking issue, but Hansen must threaten to wield his axe, to demand improvement, Craig Dowd writes
"It has been the World Cup that smashed down the gender barriers of the sport." Tom Hamilton looks back at a remarkable tournament
A selection of the best pictures from England's historic World Cup triumph in Paris as they beat Canada 21-9
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the Women's World Cup, the opening round of the Top 14 and the Rugby Championship