Wasps Director of Rugby Dai Young has named his team to take on Newcastle Falcons at Kingston Park this Friday, (kick off 7.45pm) in Round 15 of the Aviva Premiership. (Live on BT Sport 2 from 7pm).
Matt Mullan again leads the side in the absence of James Haskell, who remains with England, while Welsh lock Bradley Davies and Italian centre Andrea Masi both feature in Wasps' match day squad.
Ashley Johnson returns to the back-row following his three week suspension for tackling a player in the air, and will line-up alongside Thomas Young and Sunday’s man of the match Nathan Hughes.
There are also starts this weekend for Sailosi Tagicakibau on the left wing and Carlo Festuccia at hooker.
Following Wasps bonus point win against Harlequins at the Ricoh Arena last Sunday, Dai Young says the focus ahead of the trip to Newcastle has been on backing up the performance away from home:
"We need to take our home performances on the road. We’ve had a couple of big away wins in the Aviva Premiership and the European Champions Cup, but we haven’t been consistent in our away performances this season.
"If we want to achieve things this season, we have to match our away performances with our home performances.
"We know how tough an opposition the Falcons will be under the floodlights at Kingston Park on Friday. They seem to be playing more rugby now than they were at the start of the season. Obviously they’ve grown in confidence as they’ve picked up some decent wins.
"They’ve added to their squad this season with some real threats out wide as well as power up the middle. Obviously, with John Wells there, they are always going to have a very good driving lineout, so our discipline has to be good on Friday. I think they’ve scored eight driving lineout tries in the last three games, so they’re very good in the tight.
"Falcons also have a decent scrum, so the set piece will be a challenge. Defensively we will need to be on the money, as they will certainly look to test us with ball in hand and they will be hungry for the win after things didn’t go their way last week against Exeter Chiefs. The margin of that defeat was certainly a surprise to me and I fully expect them to bounce back this week.
"The pitch will be a slight factor, but more in terms of more rugby being played. Certainly the tempo will be a little higher and we need to be ready if the bounce of the ball isn’t true. Scrummaging should suit us due to the purchase on the pitch – we like to scrummage low – so hopefully that will help us."
"For us it’s a massive game. There are no easy games in the Aviva Premiership and winning away from home is always really difficult, but if you have ambitions to be in the top six, you have to beat teams that are down the bottom of the table. We need to win this match if we want to become one of the top teams."
Unavailable for selection:
- Charlie Davies – calf, Will Helu – hamstring, Sam Jones – concussion, Alapati Leiua – knee, Simon McIntyre – concussion, Jack Moates – hamstring.
- Following consultation with a specialist this week, centre Chris Bell will be sidelined for the rest of the season, as he continues his rehabilitation from a shoulder injury.
- Ben Jacobs has had an operation on his shoulder and is expected to be out for approximately four months.
- Josh Basset is also expected to be out for the remainder of the season after picking up an ankle injury against Northampton Saints in the LV=Cup.
- Joe Launchbury and Ruaridh Jackson continue to rehabilitate well from their neck and ACL injuries respectively.
- James Haskell – England camp.
15. Rob Miller
14. Christian Wade
13. Elliot Daly
12. James Downey
11. Sailosi Tagicakibau
10. Andy Goode
9. Joe Simpson
1. Matt Mullan (C)
2. Carlo Festuccia
3. Jake Cooper-Woolley
4. Bradley Davies
5. Kearnan Myall
6. Ashley Johnson
7. Thomas Young
8. Nathan Hughes
16. Edd Shervington
17. John Yapp
18. Lorenzo Cittadini
19. James Gaskell
20. Guy Thompson
21. Tom Bliss
22. Alex Lozowski
23. Andrea Masi