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Shields, Sopoaga and Le Roux return for Champions Cup curtain-raiser

Shields, Sopoaga and Le Roux return for Champions Cup curtain-raiser

Brad Shields, Lima Sopoaga and Willie Le Roux are restored to the Wasps starting line-up for this Friday’s Heineken Champions Cup curtain-raiser with Leinster Rugby at the RDS Arena (kick-off 7:45pm).

Shields recovers from a cheekbone injury to start in the back row alongside Nizaam Carr and Thomas Young – the latter of whom makes his first start of the 2018/19 campaign after returning from injury last weekend. Nathan Hughes misses out through suspension.

Sopoaga is fit to play after a neck spasm while Le Roux returns from Rugby Championship duty despite going off with a HIA assessment last weekend – but has passed the return-to-play protocol to be fit for Friday night’s clash.

Joe Simpson is recalled to start in place of Dan Robson, who is out for approximately three months with an ankle injury, while Michael Le Bourgeois is added to the centres to partner Juan de Jongh.

Skipper Elliot Daly moves to the wing in place of Christian Wade (illness) and joins Josh Bassett and Le Roux in the back three.

Georgian prop Zurabi Zhvania is handed a starting spot in the front row next to Tommy Taylor and Kieran Brookes while Will Rowlands and James Gaskell get the nod in the second row.

Wasps Director of Rugby Dai Young said: “We’ve had the kick in the backside going into this game. It’s up to us to respond.

“It adds some intensity when you think about who you are playing. We’ve played Leinster a few times over the past couple of seasons and we’ve got a huge respect for the way they play the game.

“You’ve only got to look at the fact they have an international 15 and a couple of others to back it up as well. They’ve certainly got a quality team. You don’t win the European Cup by accident.

“We’re under no illusions, we’re not going there as favourites but we’re looking forward to it. It’s a great game for us to be a part of.”

Wasps

15 Willie Le Roux

14 Josh Bassett

13 Juan de Jongh

12 Michael Le Bourgeois

11 Elliot Daly (C)

10 Lima Sopoaga

9 Joe Simpson

1 Zurabi Zhvania

2 Tommy Taylor

3 Kieran Brookes

4 Will Rowlands

5 James Gaskell

6 Brad Shields

7 Thomas Young

8 Nizaam Carr

 

Replacements

16 Tom Cruse

17 Ben Harris

18 Will Stuart

19 Kearnan Myall

20 Ashley Johnson

21 Craig Hampson

22 Billy Searle

23 Rob Miller

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