London Irish v Wasps Premiership Preview

Saracens will play Exeter Chiefs at Twickenham

London Irish have named their team to play Wasps at Twickenham in the Aviva Premiership London Double Header with All Black Ben Franks making his club debut.

Franks will return to the home of rugby for the first time since winning rugby’s greatest prize, the Rugby World Cup, on 31st October.

The All Black will line up alongside Tom Court and David Paice in the front row with Eoin Sheriff partnering Captain Matt Symons in the second row. Joe Trayfoot, Blair Cowan and Ofisa Treviranus are named in the back row.

Scott Steele returns to the side to start at scrum half with Chris Noakes outside him at fly half. Johnny Williams and Aseli Tikoirotuma start in the centre with Tom Fowlie, Alex Lewington and Topsy Ojo in the back three.

Gerard Ellis, Tom Smallbone and Leo Halavatau are the front row replacements with Jebb Sinclair, and Luke Narraway covering the second and back row. Darren Allinson, Theo Brophy-Clews and Fergus Mulchrone are the back replacements.

London Irish Head Coach, Tom Coventry said,”We are looking forward to the contest tomorrow and playing at one of rugby’s iconic stadiums is a real privilege. We have welcomed a couple of our World Cup players back into the fold since our last Premiership match and have enjoyed a good week of preparation. ”

“Wasps have had an incredible last two weeks in Europe and we know the enormity of the task facing us, but it is one we are relishing.”

In terms of form London Irish’s only victory in any tournament since April came at home to Agen in round 1 of the European Challenge Cup, The Exiles have lost on their last six visits to Twickenham since beating Saracens there in the London double header in 2010.

Wasps only loss in their last five fixtures in all tournaments was 16-24 at Leicester in round 3 of Aviva Premiership Rugby.

Wasps have won only one of their last four visits to Twickenham: 38-30 over Gloucester in April 2014.

Wasps have lost just one of their last four Premiership Rugby fixtures against the Exiles: 20-23 at Adams Park in February.

The two clubs have clashed just once before at Twickenham with London Irish gaining the victory during the 2008 London Double Header.

Meanwhile James Haskell will captain the Wasps squad and is set to make his 100th Premiership appearance for Wasps.

Haskell lines up in the back row alongside Nathan Hughes and Thomas Young, who comes in for George Smith, who is rested having played every minute of every game so far this season.

In the second row, Kearnan Myall joins James Gaskell, who was named man of the match during Wasps’ win over Toulon last Sunday. Bradley Davies has returned from illness to take a place on the bench, but Joe Launchbury misses out due to a hamstring strain.

After Carlo Festuccia fractured his cheekbone against Toulon, Ashley Johnson starts at hooker, with Edd Shervington coming onto the bench.

There is one change in the backline, with Sailosi Tagicakibau lining up against his former club, in place of Christian Wade, who picked up a foot injury against Toulon, which is expected to side-line the Wasps’ winger for between two to three months.

Jimmy Gopperth returns from a three-week suspension to take a place on the bench, alongside former Leinster team mate Brendan Macken. Ben Jacobs will be make his 50th Premiership appearance for Wasps when he runs out against London Irish, who are the home side for this Double Header fixture.

Previewing the game, Dai Young said: “We’ve set ourselves high standards over the last two European games. Now we need to transfer that form to the Aviva Premiership and find consistency, because we haven’t produced that consistency yet.

“In the league so far, we’ve produced two very good home performances and two very average away performances. I’ve watched Irish quite a bit and while they haven’t had the results they would want yet, their performances haven’t been that far off – it’s just a matter of them clicking.

“They are a decent team who will certainly cause teams real problems and we are hoping it is not going to be us. The biggest thing I have said this week, is that it is great doing well in Europe, but we need to make sure we qualify for Europe again next year. There’s no point in us going on a great run and doing really well in our European campaign and then not qualifying for the European Champions Cup next year. So our next two games are massive for us now.

“This season is relentless, it’s a big game this week and then, funnily enough, it’s another big game the week after. That is where we are at, every game is a massive game for us.”

Match : London Irish v Wasps
Date : Saturday 28 November
Venue : Twickenham Stadium,
Kick Off : 5.30pm
Live on: BT Sport
Match Officials
Referee :Wayne Barnes (157th Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Paul Burton & Andrew Pearce.
TMO: Sean Davey.

Teams

London Irish

15. Topsy Ojo*; 14. Alex Lewington; 13. Aseli Tikoirotuma*; 12. Johnny Williams; 11. Tom Fowlie; 10. Chris Noakes; 9. Scott Steele; 1. Tom Court*; 2. David Paice*; 3. Ben Franks*; 4. Eoin Sheriff; 5. Matt Symons (Captain); 6. Joe Trayfoot; 7. Blair Cowan*; 8. Ofisa Treviranus*

Replacements: 16. Gerard Ellis; 17. Tom Smallbone; 18. Leo Halavatau; 19. Jebb Sinclair*; 20. Luke Narraway*; 21. Darren Allinson; 22. Theo Brophy-Clews; 23. Fergus Mulchrone

*Denotes International

Wasps

15. Charles Piutau, 14. Sailosi Tagicakibau, 13. Elliot Daly, 12. Ben Jacobs, 11. Frank Halai, 10. Ruaridh Jackson, 9. Joe Simpson, 1. Matt Mullan, 2. Ashley Johnson, 3. Jake Cooper-Woolley, 4. James Gaskell, 5. Kearnan Myall, 6. James Haskell (c), 7. Thomas Young, 8. Nathan Hughes

Replacements: 16. Edd Shervington, 17. Simon McIntyre, 18. Lorenzo Cittadini, 19. Bradley Davies, 20. Sam Jones, 21. Dan Robson, 22. Jimmy Gopperth, 23. Brendan Macken

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