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All Blacks duo return to Wasps 23

By Online Editors

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All Black centre Malakai Fekitoa is back in the Wasps starting line-up for the Club’s first ever Friday night Gallagher Premiership clash at Ricoh Arena against Saracens this weekend.


The centre has recovered from a knee knock to start and is one of four changes to the starting line-up for Friday night.

Brad Shields gets his first start since early November as he gets the nod at number-eight alongside Jack Willis and co-captain Thomas Young in the back-row, with Nizaam Carr named on the bench. Sione Vailanu misses out with a knee problem.

In the second-row, Charlie Matthews is back in the side to step in for Wales call-up Will Rowlands, and partners Academy lock Thibaud Flament.

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The front-row sees Ben Harris start for the first time since December after overcoming a shoulder knock to partner Tommy Taylor and Kieran Brookes, as Simon McIntyre misses out with a groin injury.

In the backs, co-captain Dan Robson and Jacob Umaga maintain their spots in the half-back combination while Fekitoa joins fellow New Zealander Jimmy Gopperth in the centres. Marcus Watson, Josh Bassett and Zach Kibirige occupy the back-three once again.

Lima Sopoaga, Tom West, Tim Cardall and Will Porter are back among the replacements as Wasps look to return to winning ways.

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Wasps Interim Head Coach Lee Blackett said: “I feel like we’d been moving in the right direction – obviously in the three games before Leicester we’d scored three try-bonus points but a couple of bounces of the ball and a couple of things that didn’t go our way last weekend meant we didn’t come away with the result.

“This weekend is a different challenge – under the Friday Night Lights – and we’re massively excited for the occasion.

“Sarries were really good last weekend against Sale (Sharks). They managed the game really well so it’ll be a big challenge but hopefully one we will rise to.

“We want to put in a performance we can be proud of and to try and get back to winning ways at The Ricoh.”

Wasps (First-team appearances)

15 Marcus Watson (42)
14 Zach Kibirige (16)

13 Malakai Fekitoa (12)

12 Jimmy Gopperth (93)

11 Josh Bassett (116)

10 Jacob Umaga (18)

9 Dan Robson (cc) (112)

1 Ben Harris (56)

2 Tommy Taylor (63)

3 Kieran Brookes (33)

4 Charlie Matthews (25)

5 Thibaud Flament (13)

6 Jack Willis (51)

7 Thomas Young (cc) (111)

8 Brad Shields (23)


16 Gabriel Oghre (17)

17 Tom West (21)

18 Biyi Alo (8)

19 Tim Cardall (13)

20 Nizaam Carr (53)

21 Will Porter (16)

22 Lima Sopoaga (36)

23 Michael Le Bourgeois (30)

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