El­liot will lead Wasps as move talk per­sists

Warwickshire Telegraph - - SPORT - By JA­COB LEEKS

EL­LIOT Daly cap­tains Wasps against Toulouse at the Ri­coh Arena to­day (5.30pm kick-off) while spec­u­la­tion of a sum­mer move to Premier­ship cham­pi­ons Sara­cens goes on.

Nu­mer­ous na­tional news­pa­pers have linked the Bri­tish Lion with a move away from the Ri­coh Arena de­spite be­ing un­der con­tract un­til 2020. But the longserv­ing Wasp re­tains the lead­er­ship role in Joe Launch­bury’s con­tin­ued ab­sence head­ing into the must-win Heineken Cham­pi­ons Cup game against four-time win­ners Toulouse.

Tom Cruse has re­cov­ered from a rib in­jury, sus­tained in the dy­ing em­bers of the 32-28 win over Bris­tol Bears, to start at hooker, while Ash­ley Johnson and Will Stu­art are named on the bench.

Thomas Young has also proven his fit­ness af­ter miss­ing last week’s de­feat to Sara­cens to start at flanker, with Nizaam Carr drop­ping to the bench.

There is one change in the back­line, with top try-scorer Josh Bas­sett re­stored to the start­ing XV af­ter be­ing rested last week.

That means there is no place for new sign­ing Michele Cam­pag­naro, with Michael le Bour­geois and Daly the start­ing cen­tres.

Ross Neal, who has been so im­pres­sive in re­cent weeks, con­tin­ues his run in the side at winger.

It will be the first time this sea­son that Wasps can select ar­guably their first-choice back row.

Thomas Young’s re­turn from a calf is­sue sees him come in for Nizaam Carr on the open­side flank to partner Brad Shields.

The in­flu­ence of the Welsh­man is huge on this side with a high tackle count and hun­gry break­down work, as well as am­ple con­tri­bu­tions around the park with ball in hand.

If he can im­me­di­ately pick up the kind of form he was en­joy­ing prior to miss­ing out on the trip to Sara­cens, it bodes well for free­ing up Nathan Hughes to ram­page at the heart of the Toulouse de­fence.

Shields, Young and Hughes has a clas­sic back row feel to it with all bases cov­ered. They’ve just to de­liver dom­i­nant per­for­mances.

What the re­turn of Young also pro­vides is some­thing ex­plo­sive from the bench in the form of Nizaam Carr.

The knock-on im­pact of Wasps’ in­jury is­sues has been the weak­en­ing of the re­place­ments in re­cent weeks.

But for this Heineken Cham­pi­ons Cup en­counter, Dai Young can call upon the ser­vices of the South African trio of Carr, Juan de Jongh and Ash­ley Johnson. All of them can change a game.

But later to­day, all eyes will be on Daly for all man­ner of rea­sons.

The 26-year-old re­turned to Wasps af­ter an au­tumn of full­back du­ties for Eng­land and ru­mours cir­cu­lat­ing over a switch to Sara­cens with a re­ported clause in his con­tract linked to the suc­cess of se­cur­ing a per­ma­nent train­ing ground venue. Back at his favoured out­side cen­tre po­si­tion, he booted over a gi­ant penalty against the Premier­ship cham­pi­ons but was guilty of a poor pass that gifted Nick Isiekwe a try me­tres from his own line.

The er­ror has been fol­lowed by in­creased spec­u­la­tion, with na­tional news­pa­pers claim­ing Sara­cens are closing in on se­cur­ing Daly’s sig­na­ture, de­spite him be­ing un­der con­tract un­til 2020.

What­ever is go­ing on be­hind the scenes, Daly is a leader in this Wasps team as proven by his cap­taincy for this must-win game against Toulouse.

The Bri­tish Lion is be­ing se­lected in his favoured po­si­tion and with the re­spon­si­bil­ity of lead­ing the side, mo­ti­vated by right­ing the wrongs at Al­lianz Park.

El­liot Daly re­tains his lead­er­ship role in the ab­sence of Joe Launch­bury

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