Wasps welcome Bath to the Ricoh Arena in the third round of the Champions Cup on Sunday: 17:15 kick-off
England forwards James Haskell and Joe Launchbury return for the hosts
Back-rower David Denton makes his first Bath start since joining from Edinburgh
Wasps, who will be looking to continue their perfect start in the Champions Cup, are boosted by the returns of England forwards James Haskell and Joe Launchbury for their clash with Bath at the Ricoh Arena on Sunday.
The clash will be the second of four scheduled fixtures against the West-Country side this season. Wasps edged the first meeting, towards the beginning of the season, but Director of Rugby Dai Young knows previous encounters mean nothing.
“Last week (their loss to Exeter) reminded us that no matter what games you’ve won or how intense the games have been, you have to keep your foot on the pedal week-in-week-out. Otherwise, you are going to come unstuck.
“The good thing about rugby is you have an opportunity to put things right very quickly. Bath are a side with strong European pedigree, and whether we play them in the league or in Europe, we know how strong they can be and we know we’re going to have to be somewhere near our best if we are to get the result.
“In contrast to our last game against Bath, both teams have their World Cup internationals back, and we all know the last result counts for nothing. It’s all about who performs best on Sunday.”
Young also makes three changes in the backline, with Joe Simpson, Ruaridh Jackson and Rob Miller coming into Wasps run-on team.
The hosts though are without wing Frank Halai, who is ruled out with injury, which means All Black Charles Piutau switches to the wing with Miller returning at fullback.
James Haskell and Joe Launchbury – who missed out last weekend through injury, also return to the starting XV.
Meanwhile, new Bath forward David Denton says he is mentally and physically ready to make his first start for the club following two substitute appearances.
“It’s been a whirlwind of a month for me. It all happened so quickly,” Denton told BBC Radio Bristol.
“I appreciate the time the coaches have given me to get ready. I feel like I’m ready to give it a good shot.”
Bath face Wasps at the Ricoh Arena in the European Champions Cup, and Denton feels he can help the club improve their inconsistent form this season.
Last season’s Premiership finalists have suffered back-to-back defeats in their domestic league.
“I feel I’ve got something to add to this team,” he said. “The way I play is a very direct style of rugby, and I think I can get this world-class backline on the front foot.”
The visitors also hand a start to Academy graduate forward Tom Ellis start in the second row alongside the returning Dave Attwood. Max Lahiff, Ross Batty and David Wilson form an all-new front row.
Fijian international scrum-half Niko Matawalu partners fly-half George Ford, while Kyle Eastmond and Jonathan Joseph are paired in the midfield for the first time since the 2015 Aviva Premiership Final.
On the left wing, Matt Banahan will be out to add to his 14 European Cup tries, joined by Semesa Rokoduguni on the right wing and Anthony Watson at fullback.
Wasps face Bath Rugby for the second of four scheduled fixtures against the West-Country side this season
Bath are going for a fourth successive away victory in the competition for the first time since March 2010
The visitors are now are without a win in their last three Aviva Premiership Rugby fixtures and have not remained winless in four successive games since March 2014
Wasps 1/2, Draw 28/1, Bath 7/4
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Wasps: Charles Piutau
Bath: George Ford
Wasps: 15 Rob Miller, 14 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Ben Jacobs, 11 Charles Piutau, 10 Ruaridh Jackson, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 George Smith, 6 James Haskell (c), 5 Bradley Davies, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 2 Ashley Johnson, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements: 16 Edd Shervington, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Lorenzo Cittadini, 19 James Gaskell, 20 Sam Jones, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Jimmy Gopperth, 23 Alapati Leiua.
Bath: 15 Anthony Watson, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Matt Banahan, 10 George Ford, 9 Niko Matawalu, 8 David Denton, 7 Francois Louw (c), 6 Matt Garvey, 5 Dave Attwood, 4 Tom Ellis, 3 David Wilson, 2 Ross Batty, 1 Max Lahiff.
Replacements: 16 Rob Webber, 17 Nathan Catt, 18 Henry Thomas, 19 Charlie Ewels, 20 Leroy Houston, 21 Chris Cook, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 Tom Homer.
Date: Sunday, December 13
Venue: Ricoh Arena
Kick-off: 17:15 GMT
Referee: Jérôme Garcès (France)
Assistant Referees: Maxime Chalon (France), Jean-Luc Rebollal (France)
TMO: Eric Gauzins (France)