Harlequins v Wasps preview: England’s Brown, Easter and Marler return to league action
British and Irish Lion Adam Jones and James Horwill to make Harlequins debut on Friday
England’s Mike Brown, Nick Easter and Joe Marler all named on Quins bench while Danny Care misses out following a back spasm.
Wasps’ new signings Jimmy Gopperth, Brendan Macken and George Smith are all included in their starting XV
Harlequins and the Wasps will get the new Aviva Premiership season underway when they meet on Friday night at The Stoop.
Wasps, the away side, will be looking to improve on their last campaign after finishing in sixth place, missing out on a playoff spot by seven points.
Harlequins, who came eighth last campaign, will be looking to start strongly as they have a number of their talented internationals available following England’s shock elimination from the World Cup.
The last time these two sides met, on the 15th of February, Wasps were the runaway victors, beating their opponents 37-6 at the Ricoh Arena.
The Quins will be handing debuts to British and Irish Lion Adam Jones and to former Australia captain James Horwill.
Mike Brown, Nick Easter and Joe Marler are all named amongst the replacement for Harlequins. They are all available after England became the first nation to host the World Cup and not make it to the knockout stages.
However, Danny Care will miss out due to back spasms. England skipper Chris Robshaw is expected to return to the Harlequins side for next week’s trip to Leicester Tigers.
Wasps’ new signings Jimmy Gopperth, Brendan Macken and George Smith are all included in their starting XV. Another new recruit, scrum-half Dan Robson makes the bench.
They are without several key players, as Bradley Davies is still on World Cup duty with Wales, while England pair James Haskell and Joe Launchbury have been given an extra week’s rest.
Italian prop Lorenzo Cittadini is also still on international duty, while new signing Frank Halai will join up with the squad next week.
Wasps are also without centre Alapati Leiua, who is expected to be back in full training within a couple of months following a knee operation
The opening day fixture is always a hard one to predict, however Wasps are missing a lot of key players heading into the game.
Quins, on the other hand, have welcomed many of their international stars back following England’s early Rugby World Cup exit and have named a star-studded bench. You’d expect in the closing stages when both teams start to make replacements that the host will have the edge and this may allow them to steal a narrow victory.
Harlequins by 7
Players to Watch
Two debutants could make the difference when the pair meet on Friday night with both looking to get their seasons off to the best possible start.
James Horwill (Harlequins)
The former Australia captain is making his debut in the Premier League and will be looking to prove a point. The powerful lock will be looking to make an impression on English soil and will put himself about, put in some big hits, but also powerfully carry the ball and constantly make it over the gain line.
He is a big addition to the Harlequins side and can lead from the pack. His experience will be vital all season and signing a three year deal shows commitment to the cause. They will look to use him the best they can and on his debut he will make a big impact.
Jimmy Gopperth (Wasps)
Any game Jimmy Gopperth plays in he will have a big impact, and the opening day of the Premier League season will be no different. Like Horwill, he will be making his debut for his new side, but he does have experience in the league and it will be vital.
He is good with the ball in his hands and has the ability to win games almost by himself with his outstanding kicking game.
Whilst at Newcastle in 2009-10 season, when he replaced Jonny Wilkinson, he made 22 appearances, scoring two tries and had a massive haul of 219 points which made him the league’s top score. The 32 year old will be looking to do the same with Wasps.
Harlequins: 15 Ollie Lindsay-Hague, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 George Lowe, 12 Harry Sloan, 11 Charlie Walker, 10 Nick Evans (c), 9 Karl Dickson, 8 Mat Luamanu, 7 Luke Wallace, 6 Jack Clifford, 5 Sam Twomey, 4 James Horwill, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Dave Ward, 1 Mark Lambert.
Replacements: 16 Joe Gray, 17 Joe Marler, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 Charlie Matthews, 20 Nick Easter, 21 Tito Tebaldi, 22 Ben Botica, 23 Mike Brown.
Wasps: 15 Rob Miller, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Brendan Macken, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 George Smith, 6 Sam Jones, 5 James Gaskell, 4 James Cannon, 3 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 2 Ashley Johnson, 1 Matt Mullan (c).
Replacements: 16 Carlo Festuccia, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Phil Swainston, 19 Kearnan Myall, 20 Thomas Young, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Ruaridh Jackson, 23 Sailosi Tagicakibau.
Date: Friday, October 16
Venue: Twickenham Stoop
Kick-off: 19:45 BST
Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistant referees: Paul Burton, Simon McConnell
Television match official: Sean Davey
Timekeeper: Robert Ockenden
Assessor: Brian Campsall