Senior Wasps players return for visit of Bristol Bears
A host of Wasps senior players have returned ahead of this Sunday’s Premiership Rugby Cup clash with Bristol Bears at Ricoh Arena (kick-off 3pm).
Josh Bassett, Lima Sopoaga and Joe Simpson return to the backline while Simon McIntyre, Tom Cruse, James Gaskell and Thomas Young are restored to the forward pack.
Bassett is named in the back three alongside Marcus Watson and skipper and full back Rob Miller while Ross Neal keeps his place in the centres next to Gaby Lovobalavu after impressing in recent weeks. Sopoaga and Simpson re-form their half-back partnership.
Tighthead Jake Cooper-Woolley keeps his place in the front row alongside McIntyre and hooker Cruse while Gaskell partners Charlie Matthews in the second row.
Young, Ben Morris and Academy number eight Tom Willis – who impressed last weekend as he scored against Northampton Saints – are named in the back row.
On the bench, Tommy Taylor, Ben Harris, Kieran Brookes, Will Rowlands and Michael Le Bourgeois also return to the match day 23.
Wasps Defence Coach Ian Costello said: “Last week was the most controlling performance we’ve had for a while. We got ourselves into a very dominant position but we let the game get away from us with mistakes at the end.
“That is the disappointing thing, because it’s those fine margins we need to learn to come out on the right side of.
“One of the key focuses I wanted to achieve was for us to have the same levels of excitement around our defence as we do in our attack.
“Anyone who watches Wasps in recent years would be really excited about the way we play the game. It’s all about making sure we have a balance to our game both sides of the ball.
“Defensively it’s about keeping the faith in what we are trying to do and constantly working on the fundamentals. We need to make sure that we build strong habits so that we’re a lot more consistent under pressure and under fatigue in games.”
Tickets for the game are available online or calling 02476 786411.
Wasps (Wasps first-team appearances)
15 Rob Miller (c) (89)
14 Marcus Watson (16)
13 Ross Neal (2)
12 Gaby Lovobalavu (18)
11 Josh Bassett (84)
10 Lima Sopoaga (6)
9 Joe Simpson (245)
1 Simon McIntyre (152)
2 Tom Cruse (43)
3 Jake Cooper-Woolley (116)
4 Charlie Matthews (2)
5 James Gaskell (95)
6 Ben Morris (4)
7 Thomas Young (93)
8 Tom Willis (7)
16 Tommy Taylor (40)
17 Ben Harris (26)
18 Kieran Brookes (8)
19 Will Rowlands (55)
20 Joe Atkinson (3)
21 Craig Hampson (18)
22 Billy Searle (5)
23 Michael Le Bourgeois (6)