Wasps out to halt Quins' progress
February 8, 2013
Wasps' Billy Vunipola has returned from England training to start against Harlequins © PA Photos
London Wasps travel to Aviva Premiership champions Harlequins aiming to recover from losing their unbeaten home record a week ago.
Dai Youngs's side slipped to a 33-30 loss to Sale Sharks in the LV=Cup and as a result the Welshman has named a strong team for their trip across London with Elliot Daly, Christian Wade and Joe Simpson in the backs and Billy Vunipola at No.8 after being released by England. Quins coach Conor O'Shea will look to his experienced names to continue their winning run with a number of his charges on England duty; Nick Easter captains the side from No.8 and Nick Evans leads a back-line that features Ugo Monye on the wing and Matt Hopper and George Lowe in the centre.
Bottom placed Sale get the weekend's action underway against Exeter Chiefs on Friday night with the aim of building on their two consecutive victories in the LV=Cup. The club expect their largest gate of the season and the hope is that the returning Mark Cueto will use the occasion to overtake Steve Hanley's record of 75 tries as the Premiership's leading try-scorer. However, they will have to be at their best to avoid a repeat of the 43-6 loss they suffered at Sandy Park on the first day of the season.
In the other London derby of the weekend, Saracens travel to face London Irish with a team reinforced by David Strettle, Will Fraser, George Kruis, Duncan Taylor and Joel Tomkins who return from England's training camp. The Exiles meanwhile welcome back Scott Lawson, George Skivington and Ian Humphreys.
Leicester, the only non- London side in the top four play host to London Welsh, who give a league debut to Argentine international Gonzalo Tiesi and have picked Gavin Henson on the bench. Matt Smith will make his 100th appearance for the Tigers against Tiesi in the centres and in doing so joins his father Ian in reaching that milestone.
Gloucester return to Northampton Saints two weeks after their 26-7 loss in the LV=Cup, but with a vastly changed side. Nick Wood and Jonny May return from England Saxons duty to start at prop and wing, while the Saints are captained by Phil Dowson and start Lee Dickson and Stephen Myler at half-back.
Bath are another side to welcome back players from England duty for their clash with Worcester. Saxons' players Kyle Eastmond and Tom Biggs return to a back-line that will be directed by the veteran half-back pairing of Peter Stringer and Stephen Donald. Worcester coach Richard Hill has made seven changes to the team that lost to Saracens in the cup a week ago; Matt Kvesic will start at No.8 and forms part of a pack that features captain James Percival alongside Dean Schofield at second-row.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"Some people have it from day one and Brian did." Tom Hamilton talks to the two players who made their Ireland debuts alongside Brian O'Driscoll back in June 1999
Despite having lost all four of their 2014 Six Nations games, the future of Italian rugby is bright with the team showing a new youthful core, argues Enrico Borra
"The loudest cheer at a rugby game, away from social media gimmicks, pumping music and pyrotechnics will always be for a try." Tom Hamilton on the Twickenham atmosphere
"The only thing that will stop this England team from becoming a great team is themselves. They need to ask themselves 'what can we be?'" The Phil Vickery column