Director of Rugby Dai Young has named his Wasps side to take on Bristol Rugby at the Ricoh Arena this Sunday, kick-off 2.30pm.
James Gaskell returns to the starting line-up and will captain the side in the absence of Joe Launchbury, who sits the game out with a slight groin strain.
In the pack, Simon McIntyre, Tommy Taylor, Matt Symons, Guy Thompson and Thomas Young all retain the starting shirts after impressive performances at Welford Road last Saturday.
Up front, Jake Cooper-Woolley starts at tighthead, with Marty Moore missing out due to a calf strain, and Phil Swainston comes onto the bench.
In the back row, Sam Jones is given a well-deserved rest after two typically physical performances against Exeter and Leicester, one of a number of contenders for man of the match last weekend. Alex Rieder gets his opportunity to impress again, having already produced strong performances during pre-season and in the A-League on Monday night.
The only change in the backline sees Frank Halai running out on the left wing. On the bench, centre Kyle Eastmond is in line to make his Wasps’ debut, while there’s a welcome return from injury for lock Kearnan Myall. Former Bristol scrum half Craig Hampson again provides cover for Wasps at 9, with Dan Robson working his way back to full-fitness.
Ahead of Sunday’s clash, Dai Young is looking forward to welcoming Bristol to the Ricoh Arena for the first time, but is also fully aware of the threat they will pose: “Bristol is renowned for its passionate support base and I appreciate how much rugby means to the city, so it’s great to see them back at the top table.
“We’re aware Sunday’s match could be something of a banana skin for us, having made a positive start to our Aviva Premiership campaign. In professional sport, you have to look forward very quickly and the only thing that counts is the performance this Sunday. We must back up our two wins, otherwise they will count for nothing.
“We know exactly how tough a proposition Bristol Rugby will be, having played them in pre-season when we were lucky to come away with the win. If we’re honest, they probably should have beaten us that day. They have an abrasive pack and real quality in their backline, with a number of experienced players spread throughout the squad.
“I suspect Bristol will fancy their chances on Sunday as they’ll remember how close they pushed us at Clifton RFC. They’re a decent team who will definitely pick up wins soon and we need to make sure it’s not against us. We have to perform at the same intensity as the first two weeks, otherwise it won’t be good enough.”
Tickets start from £15, with U10s going free, and are available from wasps.co.uk/tickets or by calling 02476 786 411 or in person at the Ricoh Arena Ticket office.
Wasps team to play Bristol Rugby
15. Rob Miller
14. Christian Wade
13. Elliot Daly
12. Jimmy Gopperth
11. Frank Halai
10. Danny Cipriani
9. Joe Simpson
1. Simon McIntyre
2. Tommy Taylor
3. Jake Cooper-Woolley
4. Matt Symons
5. James Gaskell ©
6. Alex Rieder
7. Thomas Young
8. Guy Thompson
16. Ashley Johnson
17. Matt Mullan
18. Phil Swainston
19. Kearnan Myall
20. Nathan Hughes
21. Craig Hampson
22. Kyle Eastmond
23. Josh Bassett
Unavailable for selection through injury:
Forwards – James Haskell, Joe Launchbury, Marty Moore
Backs – Dan Robson, Guy Armitage, Kurtley Beale, Alapati Leiua, Brendan Macken
Willie Le Roux – to arrive February from Cannon Eagles, Japan.