Trio’s return a big boost for Wasps at home of the champions
BRAD Shields, Lima Sopoaga and Willie le Roux all return to the Wasps starting line-up for tonight’s Heineken Champions Cup curtainraiser at European champions Leinster.
Shields has featured just once so far this season in black-andgold after suffering a cheekbone injury on his debut against Exeter Chiefs.
His selection is timely for Wasps, with captain Joe Launchbury still ruled out with a knee injury and Nathan Hughes suspended.
Nizaam Carr takes over from Hughes at the back of the scrum, while Thomas Young makes his first start of the season at openside flanker.
Sopoaga has also recovered from a neck spasm to replace Billy Searle at fly-half, and he is set to match-up against the world-renowned Johnny Sexton who starts for Leinster at 10.
Despite being forced off with a HIA Assessment in South Africa’s final Rugby Championship match last week, le Roux will make only his second Wasps appearance of the season at full-back.
Joe Simpson has won the selection battle with Craig Hampson to start at scrum-half, with Dan Robson ruled out for approximately three months with an ankle injury. Christian Wade, who is yet to score this season, is out with an illness so skipper Elliot Daly moves out to the wing.
Replacing him in the centre is Michael Le Bourgeois who will partner Juan de Jongh.
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 have a fairly even record against the Irishmen, winning four, losing four and drawing once of the We’ve had the kick
in the backside going into this game and it’s up to us to respond. It adds some intensity. last nine clashes, but boss Dai Young insists his side will pay Leinster the respect they deserve.
“We’ve had the kick in the backside going into this game and it’s up to us to respond,” Young said.
“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 added.
“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.”
From top, Wasps stars Brad Shields, Lima Sopoaga and Willie le Roux will face Leinster tonight DAN Robson’s ankle injury is worse than first feared after Wasps revealed he has been ruled out until January.Robson was forced off after 40 minutes of last week’s defeat to Gloucester and his club had hoped he would be sidelined for a month.But the scrum-half tweeted yesterday that he was set to have surgery after a specialist reviewed an MRI scan.Although he said his surgeon has promised he will ‘come back stronger’, Robson admitted that he is ‘gutted to be out for a while’.The three month lay-off was confirmed by Wasps in their team announcement and