New Zealand World Cup-winner Malakai Fekitoa is set to make his Wasps debut on Saturday when they take on Worcester Warriors in round four of the Premiership Rugby Cup at Ricoh Arena.
Fekitoa, who played his last Test match for the All Blacks in the 2017 series draw with the Lions before his switch to Top 14 outfit Toulon, will link up with Juan de Jongh in the Wasps midfield, while skipper Dan Robson returns to the starting line-up at scrum-half alongside Billy Searle at stand-off, who makes his first start since February.
Both Wasps and Worcester are still in the hunt for a semi-final place in the competition but either side require a win in their Derby Day fixture and will have to hope other results go their way if they are to make the knockout stages.
Josh Bassett and Marcus Watson are restored to the side, starting on the wings, with Rob Miller at full-back. In the pack, Georgia international Zurabi Zhvania lines up next to Tom Cruse and Kieran Brookes in the front-row, with Tim Cardall partnering Charlie Matthews in the second-row.
England’s Brad Shields starts in the back-row alongside Jack Willis and Tonga international Sione Vailanu. Fekitoa’s fellow All Black Lima Sopoaga is also set for his first appearance of the season after recovering from injury to be named among the replacements.
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Wasps director of rugby Dai Young said: “One of the priorities of this competition was to give everybody an opportunity and we’ve achieved that. Everybody that’s been available has played and it’s allowed us to look at different combinations.
“The first performance was poor against Saracens but the last two have been a lot better. Both games were close and could’ve gone either way and we’ve been very competitive in both.
“Some boys have put their hands up and hopefully now we can finish off with a win this weekend and that’ll take us where it takes us.”
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