Toulon v Wasps preview: Team news, kick-off time, line-ups and stats for the Champions Cup clash
England forwards Joe Launchbury and James Haskell will miss Wasps’ trip to defending champions Toulon on Sunday: 14:00 kick-off
Toulon opt for Quade Cooper at fly-half, with Ma’a Nonu and Bryan Habana also included
The hosts have a two point lead over the French side at the top of Pool Five
Star-studded Toulon are boosted by the return of Australia international Drew Mitchell to their side as they look to overcome an injury-hit Wasps in the Champions Cup at Stade Felix Mayol on Sunday.
The Australian comes in for fellow countryman James O’Connor at full-back in an otherwise unchanged backline for the home fixture, which includes fellow wallaby Quade Cooper and Springbok superstar Bryan Habana.
Steffon Armitage returns to the line-up in place of Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe in the only change to the champions’ forward pack.
Meanwhile, co-captain Matt Mullan will skipper Wasps in the absence of James Haskell, who has been ill this week and therefore unable to rehab from a shoulder knock. Haskell is expected to be fit for next Saturday’s game against Leinster.
Sam Jones and Guy Thompson, who both impressed in last Sunday’s late win over Worcester, start in the back-row alongside George Smith. Nathan Hughes continues to work his way back to fitness from a calf injury.
Bradley Davies and James Gaskell form the second-row partnership, packing down behind Matt Mullan, Edd Shervington and Lorenzo Cittadini.
There is only one change in the backline, with Charles Piutau fit to return to the starting line-up, at full-back.
Wasps have won only four of 12 pool stage fixtures against French teams away from home, though they’ll be looking for consecutive such victories after a 32-17 triumph against Castres in 2014
Against sides from all nations Wasps have won their last four away games in the pool stages of the Champions Cup, their best run since winning six on the spin between 1996 and 1999
Wasps scored four tries when they hosted Toulon earlier in this campaign, despite making fewer carries (93) and beating fewer defenders (15) than in any other game this season
Matt Mullan is yet to miss a tackle in the Champions Cup this season (43/43), no player has made more tackles without missing at least one so far.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Toulon: Quade Cooper
Wasps: Jimmy Gopperth
Toulon: 15 Drew Mitchell, 14 Josua Tuisova, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Eric Escande, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Steffon Armitage, 6 Juan Smith, 5 Konstantine Mikautadze, 4 Jocelino Suta, 3 Levan Chilachava, 2 Guilhem Guirado, 1 Florian Fresia.
Replacements: 16 Anthony Etrillard, 17 Xavier Chiocci, 18 Manasa Saulo, 19 Mamuka Gorgodze, 20 Frederic Michalak, 21 Maxime Mermoz, 22 Sebastien Tillous-Borde, 23 Thibault Lassale.
Wasps: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Ben Jacobs, 11 Frank Halai, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Guy Thompson, 7 George Smith, 6 Sam Jones, 5 James Gaskell, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 2 Edd Shervington, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements: 16 Ashley Johnson, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Phil Swainston, 19 Kearnan Myall, 20 Thomas Young, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Ruaridh Jackson, 23 Rob Miller.
Date: Sunday, January 17
Venue: Stade Felix Mayol
Kick-off: 16:15 local (15:15 GMT)
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Leighton Hodges (Wales), Wayne Davies (Wales)
TMO: Jonathan Mason (Wales)