Paolo Odogwu is finally set to start his first match of any kind for twelve weeks after spending the entire Guinness Six Nations championship kicking his heels as Eddie Jones did not involve him in any of the five England matchday squads. Odogwu had set the Gallagher Premiership alive over the winter with his try-scoring exploits for Wasps which culminated in his first-ever call-up by the English.
However, he wasn’t capped during the campaign and with players unable to return to their clubs during the tournament in order to protect the integrity of the squad’s safety bubble, it meant Odogwu was left idle for nearly three months after being in the form of his life.
He finally made a return to action off the bench for Wasps in last weekend’s loss to Sale and now steps into his club’s XV for their round of 16 Heineken Champions Cup game at home to Clermont on Saturday, a fixture that will be Wasps’ 100th competitive match at Ricoh Arena since they moved to Coventry from Adams Park in 2014.
Odogwu is one of three changes following the latest Premiership loss for Wasps as Jacob Umaga returns at fly-half to make his Champions Cup debut while the only alteration in the pack sees James Gaskell return to action at blindside flanker, with Brad Shields moving to No8 to take the place of Alfie Barbeary who is out with a calf injury.
There is also a return for Tom Willis, who is named among the replacements. He is joined on the bench by Sione Vailanu, Zach Kibirige and Jimmy Gopperth, who could make his 50th European appearance.
"He is absolutely desperate to be out there"
– 20-year-old Alfie Barbeary is back in harness at Wasps after surgery halted his December gallop as a Premiership player of the month award and an England squad call-up#ChampionsCup #GallagherPremhttps://t.co/unqppBIRSW
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) March 31, 2021
WASPS: 15. Matteo Minozzi; 14. Paolo Odogwu, 13. Malakai Fekitoa, 12. Michael Le Bourgeois, 11. Josh Bassett; 10. Jacob Umaga, 9. Dan Robson; 1. Ben Harris, 2. Tommy Taylor, 3. Kieran Brookes, 4. Joe Launchbury (capt), 5. Will Rowlands, 6. James Gaskell, 7. Thomas Young, 8. Brad Shields. Reps: 16. Gabriel Oghre, 17. Jack Owlett, 18. Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 19. Sione Vailanu, 20. Tom Willis, 21. Sam Wolstenholme, 22. Jimmy Gopperth, 23. Zach Kibirige.
CLERMONT: 15. Kotaro Matsushima; 14. Damian Penaud, 13. George Moala, 12. Wesley Fofana, 11. Alivereti Raka; 10. Camille Lopez (capt), 9. Sébastien Bezy, 1. Peni Ravai, 2. Adrien Pelissie, 3. Cristian Ojovan, 4. Paul Jedrasiak, 5. Sébastien Vahaamahina, 6. Judicael Cancoriet, 7. Alexandre Fischer, 8. Fritz Lee. Reps: 16. Etienne Fourcade, 17. Daniel Bibi Biziwu, 18. Rabah Slimani, 19. Thibaud Lanen, 20. Peceli Yato, 21. Morgan Parra, 22. Tim Nanai-Williams, 23. Peter Betham.
An appearance for Tonga ?? at an Olympics 7s qualifier in June on the same weekend as the Premiership semi-finals could open the door to World Cup 2023 in France #GallagherPrem #Tokyo2020https://t.co/zc78U9zjNG
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) March 30, 2021
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