Tigers braced for Wasps showdown
December 4, 2009
Toby Flood is in at No.10 for Leicester © Getty Images
One of the Premiership's biggest contests will fill Adams Park on Sunday when Wasps host their perennial rivals Leicester.
Wasps have a game in hand after refusing to take the field at a muddy Edgeley Park. The Tigers trounced Leeds 39-6 in their last outing and Wasps suffered a 22-6 drubbing against Saracens.
Wasps have won their last four matches against Leicester, but the Tigers have an excellent record at Adams Park, having won on four of their eight previous visits, and also securing two draws. The home side have made one change to the side that travelled to Sale, with Richard Birkett drafted in to the second-row alongside Simon Shaw.
Danny Cipriani was initially deemed not ready for a return, but David Lemi's forced withdrawal sees the English international promoted to the bench. Dave Walder to pull the strings from fly-half, Joe Simpson is again called on at scrum-half while Steve Kefu and Dom Waldouck have been named in the centre. David Lemi is named on the wing after his international break with Samoa.
"Playing Leicester always has that sense of history which makes it enjoyable for players and supporters alike," said Wasps boss Tony Hanks. "For us the focus is to just get back out on the field and play after the break since the Saracens game - we have worked in hard in training to build on the learning from that game and the squad are bolstered by the return of Shaw, Payne and Lemi back in club colours after the autumn internationals. We know this will be a hugely competitive game but the squad are relishing that challenge."
Leicester have England's Toby Flood back from injury at fly-half and a maturing centre pairing in Aaron Mauger and Anthony Allen. Former Wallaby wing Lote Tuqiri starts alongside former All Black Scott Hamilton in the back-three, with Ireland 'A' international Johne Muprhy completing the trio.
Tigers coach Richard Cockerill will again watch from the stands due to his touchline ban but is in good heart following last weekend's victory.
"We were very pleased that we kept playing against Leeds last weekend and kept creating things and in the end we were able to convert those chances," said Cockerill. "We are in a decent place in the league and we've picked up points in every game, but there is no room to sit back. We've had some big games with Wasps over the years and the rivalry is there because we have both been very successful."
Wasps: Mark Van Gisbergen; Paul Sackey, Dominic Waldouck, Steve Kefu, Tom Varndell; Dave Walder, Joe Simpson; Tim Payne, Rob Webber, Ben Broster, Simon Shaw, Richard Birkett, John Hart, Serge Betsen (capt), Dan Ward-Smith
Replacements: Joe Ward, Gabriel Bocca, Bob Baker, Dan Leo, Will Matthews, James Honeyben, Danny Cipriani, Ben Jacobs
Leicester: Scott Hamilton; Johne Murphy, Anthony Allen, Aaron Mauger (capt), Lote Tuqiri; Toby Flood, Ben Youngs; Marcos Ayerza, Mefin Davies, Dan Cole, Louis Deacon, Geoff Parling, Brett Deacon, Lewis Moody, Jordan Crane
Replacements: George Chuter, Boris Stankovich, Robbie Harris, Ben Kay, Craig Newby, James Grindal, Jeremy Staunton, Alesana Tuilagi
As Ray McLoughlin prepares to celebrate his 75th birthday, Huw Richards pays tribute to the man and the selectors who had the wisdom to bring him into the Ireland fold
John Taylor argues the world's best XVs players must be given a chance to play in the Olympics to increase the appeal of the game
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