Wasps vs Worcester Warriors – Match Preview

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Wasps vs Worcester WarriorsWith an absolute must win match coming up against Worcester Warriors I thought it might be worth taking a moment to look at who might be playing.

If we’d been able to replicate our European form in the Aviva Premiership to date then this would have been a perfect opportunity to rest some of our starting XV, but with Wasps sitting in 9th place, only 3 points above Worcester’s 10th place this is an absolute must win match, and so I suspect we won’t be seeing much in the way of rested players.

My Wasps squad to face Worcester Warriors

1) Simon McIntyre

2) Ashley Johnson

3) Jake Cooper-Wooley

4) Joe Launchbury

5) James Gaskell

6) James Haskell

7) George Smith

8) Nathan Hughes

9) Joe Simpson

10) Ruaridh Jackson

11) Alapati Leiua

12) Ben Jacobs

13) Elliot Daly

14) Frank Halai

15) Charles Piutau

16) Matt Mullan

17) Ed Shervington

18) Lorenzo Cittadini

19) Bradley Davies

20) Sam Jones

21) Jimmy Gopperth

22) Dan Robson

23) Sailosi Tagikacibau

McIntyre ahead of Mullan might seem a little controversial after I said I want to see our strongest possible team.  However in the scrum there is little to choose between them, I might even put Big Mac ahead though Mullan is without a doubt a better carrier in the loose.  With Nathan hopefully back at 8, and Leiua in the backs displacing Miller I think we can afford to let Mullan have a bench place rather than a starting spot, but I’d want to know we can bring him on if the need arises.

For me Cooper-Wooley and Cittadini are pretty much equal in ability both in the scrum and the loose, but Cittadini has a tendency to give away the odd silly penalty, and every point is going to count.  Cooper-Wooley may not be match fit, or even fit at all, so I wouldn’t be disappointed if Cittadini gets the nod, but I’d really like to see JCW back as soon as possible.

I’d give Gaskell the nod over Davies to start, simply for his lineout ability. With Johnson’s throwing looking a little more fragile over the last few games we need the most solid catchers we can, and he also has a tendency to steal the ball more than anyone else in the team.

For me the form 9-10 is without a doubt Simpson and Jackson. Robson doesn’t seem to be able to recreate his glorious form of last year, and with one exception Gopperth has been outplayed by Jackson in every outing. Though I’d make sure we have Gopperth on the bench as Jackson does have a tendency to lose confidence if things aren’t going his way.  Having someone who can shore things up to come on can’t hurt.

The centres have to be Daly and Jacobs. Their combination of defensive solidity and evasive running is a briliant pairing.

The back three is a big area of contention for me. I can’t see any reason to play Miller at 15 when we have Piutau on the books. We have suffered under the high ball a lot this season and that will not have gone unnoticed at Worcester. We need the most solid full back we have, and that is Piutau. The fact that he is also extremely threatening running with the ball in hand is a bonus. That leaves the wings, and whilst neither Halai nor Leiua have recreated their Southern Hemisphere form yet, but they never will if we don’t play them.  Lieua might be happier in the centres, but he is a phenomenal winger when things go well, and we should be making use of that.

The only position I am not convinced about is Hooker. Johnson has managed the transition from back row to front row better than I could possibly have imagined, but despite his obvious strengths on the field in general he is far from the finished article at 2. Carlo Festuccia is without a doubt our first choice currently, But should Johnson get the nod over Shervington?

Whatever team Dai chooses I hope we don’t end up risking losing this game, we absolutely have to beat Worcester Warriors if we are going to stand any chance at all of reaching the top six again.

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