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Wasps team to play Exeter Chiefs

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Wasps’ Director of Rugby Dai Young has named his side to take on Exeter Chiefs this Saturday, at the Ricoh Arena, kick-off 17:30.

Sam Jones is set to make his 100th appearance for Wasps when he lines up on the blindside flank, alongside George Smith, who was named Green Flag Forward of the Month this month, and Guy Thompson, who makes his first Premiership start of the season.

James Haskell misses out with a shoulder injury, so Wasps' co-captain Matt Mullan will skipper the side. Mullan starts on the loosehead, with Lorenzo Cittadini coming in at tighthead, alongside Ashley Johnson at hooker.

Bradley Davies and James Gaskell form the second row partnership, with Joe Launchbury close to a return, but not quite 100% fit.

There is a new half-back pairing, with Dan Robson and Jimmy Gopperth starting at 9 and 10. The backline is otherwise unchanged from the starting line-up in last Saturday's win against London Irish.

On the bench, Alapati Leiua is ready to make his first appearance of the season, following a knee operation during the off-season.

Wasps' Director of Rugby Dai Young said: "This season, with no breaks, every single weekend is massive. As soon as one big game goes, there's immediately another around the corner.

"This week, we're up against one of the form sides in the Premiership in Exeter Chiefs, who deservedly sit second in the table. They're a real quality team, who have only lost one league game so far this season, so we are viewing this as a massive test for us.

"Exeter are very comfortable playing high tempo, multi-phase rugby – they are confident keeping the ball for long periods of time, in an attempt to grind you down. Off the back of that, they also have a very good set piece and are a really exciting team to watch and tough to defend against. Rob [Baxter] has to take a lot of credit for the team that he has built.

"We've had a good month in Europe and a good away-win last weekend, but that will mean nothing if we don't back it up at home this weekend. All our focus is on defending our own patch at the Ricoh Arena this Saturday. We are determined to build consistency and we know we have to win our home games if we want to get somewhere near our goals for this season, to maintain our top six status.

"Exeter are currently five points ahead of us, so it's a huge game in context of the league table – a win would narrow the gap, a loss would see the Chiefs stretch away. If we want to improve and climb the table, it's important to pick up wins against the teams around you. These are the games that you have got to win.”

Wasps team to play Exeter Chiefs

15. Charles Piutau
14. Sailosi Tagicakibau
13. Elliot Daly
12. Ben Jacobs
11. Frank Halai
10. Jimmy Gopperth
9. Dan Robson
1. Matt Mullan (C)
2. Ashley Johnson
3. Lorenzo Cittadini
4. Bradley Davies
5. James Gaskell
6. Sam Jones
7. George Smith
8. Guy Thompson

Replacements
16. Edd Shervington
17. Simon McIntyre
18. Jake Cooper-Woolley
19. Kearnan Myall
20. Nathan Hughes
21. Joe Simpson
22. Ruaridh Jackson
23. Alapati Leiua

The Exeter Chiefs match also marks the launch of Wasps' Offload Series, with live music following the rugby action, as Echo & the Bunnymen and Buzzcocks take to the stage to entertain fans in the Jaguar Hall. For more information visit http://www.wasps.co.uk/news/article/2015/10/26/offload-series-launched—music-and-rugby-rock-the-ricoh-arena
 
Tickets are priced from £25 for the live music and rugby combined, or at £15 for the live music only and from £15 for Wasps v Exeter Chiefs rugby only.

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