Wasps vs Harlequins Anglo Welsh LV= Preview

Sitting at the top of pool 4, Quins will be looking to continue winning ways this weekend when they take on London Wasps in Abu Dhabi.

With victories already banked in the LV= Cup competition against Leicester Tigers and Newcastle Falcons, a win on Sunday would not only keep Harlequins on track for a place in the next round of the completion, but also see Quins unbeaten in their last 8 successive games in all competitions.

Although delighted to see Danny Care and Nick Easter in the England camp and Mike Brown, Joe Marler, Chris Robshaw , Ugo Monye and George Robson all named in the Saxons side that is in action this weekend, Quins will be without a number of familiar faces on Sunday. There have also been a number of injuries.

There are a handful of changes to the side that defeated Bayonne at the Stoop and secured Quins a valuable home quarter final spot in the Amlin Challenge Cup.

In the forwards, Ceri Jones returns from injury to link up with Joe Gray and Mark Lambert in the front row, with Ollie Kohn and Pete Browne supporting in the second row. With Robshaw and Easter away on International duty, Will Skinner is handed the Captaincy and is joined in the back row by Maurie Fa’asalavu and Chris York.

Karl Dickson takes over scrum half duties from Care and links up with Nick Evans at fly-half. Sam Smith, who has scored 5 tries in only 4 appearances this season, retains his place on the wing, with Gonzalo Camacho covering the other wing. Tom Williams remains at full-back.

Will Collier and Joe Trayfoot make their first appearances on the Quins bench.

Three London Wasps players will make their full senior debut in Abu Dhabi as fly half Mark Atkinson, back row pair Billy Vunipola and Sam Jones are named in the starting line up.

Atkinson joined the club’s Academy this season from Sale Sharks whilst Harrow School pupil Vunipola is part of the club’s on site set-up.

Jones has already featured twice this season for the club, coming off the bench against Newport Gwent Dragons and Harlequins in the Heineken Cup and Aviva Premiership respectively, but has the chance to make his mark as part of this starting line up eager to sustain vital points in their 2010/11 LV=Cup campaign.

Academy full back Jack Wallace also starts for Wasps, collecting his fourth appearance of the season.

The backline features senior regulars Richard Haughton, Tom Varndell, Captain Ben Jacobs and Dominic Waldouck. Nic Berry also starts at scrum half in place of Joe Simpson who is training with England alongside Wasps’ Simon Shaw, Joe Worsley, Riki Flutey and Tim Payne.

In the pack Charlie Beech starts alongside Tom Lindsay and Ben Broster in the front row. Marty Veale and James Cannon partner in the second row whilst club stalwart Richard Birkett joins the academy debut back row of Jones and Vunipola.

On the bench and academy duo of Joe Launchbury and Christian Wade also receive a senior call up to the match 23, whilst experience comes in form of Serge Betsen and Dave Walder.

Looking ahead to the game, Director of Rugby Tony Hanks said, “Whilst the team have really enjoyed the experience in Abu Dhabi since arrival on Wednesday the focus has been Sunday’s game and that has been reflected in the way that the guys have trained.

“The nature of the LV=Cup and its focus on showcasing young talent, combined with the international call up of five England players and Andy Powell to Wales, gives selection a different flavour this weekend.

“We have selected a side that we believe has a nice balance of experience, plenty of good form along with the introduction of a number of our young players who get the opportunity to run out on the senior stage.

“We are pleased to see Harrow School pupil Billy Vunipola and Mark Atkinson
and Sam Jones take the chance to make their mark after impressing in training.”

The game will

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