BRISTOL AND WASPS HAVE BIG NAMES BACK FOR ASHTON GATE CLASH


SIALE PIUTAU and Alapati Leiua return from injury as Bristol return to Gallagher Premiership action on Friday night against Wasps at Ashton Gate (7.45pm).

Luke Daniels and John Hawkins will also make their first Premierships starts since the opening day.

Bristol head coach Pat Lam said: “At this stage of the season, every game counts more than ever and there’s something riding on it every time we take to the field.

“We understand the challenge that we face against a quality side who are currently above us in the table. It’s exciting and it’s what we relish as staff and players.

“We have put a lot of work into the game and prepared well. Everything is geared towards kick-off on Friday evening in front of our home support.”

Wasps, meanwhile, have Dan Robson, Thomas Young and Michele Campagnaro back from international duty for Friday’s game. They also hand a start to former Bristol player Billy Searle.

Robson, who made his Test debut off the bench for England in Sunday’s win over France, starts at scrum half while Young, who impressed in Wales’ win over Italy, starts in the back row.

Campagnaro returns from Italy duty to feature on the wing, with Wasps top try-scorer Josh Bassett on the opposite flank, as he looks to build on his impressive ten tries so far in this campaign.

Springbok Willie Le Roux starts at full back while Juan de Jongh is joined by Gaby Lovobalavu in the centres. Searle joins Robson in the half-back combination.

The pack sees Will Stuart starting at tight-head after a wrist injury keeps Jake Cooper-Woolley sidelined, and the young prop is joined by Georgia international Zurabi Zhvania and Tom Cruse in the front row. Will Rowlands and James Gaskell occupy the second-row while Ashley Johnson skippers the side from the back row next to Young and Nizaam Carr.

Wasps director of rugby Dai Young said: “There’s been lots of positive talk around the place recently and the way the boys have trained has been excellent. We know where we are, the same as nine other teams in the league. We know these upcoming four games will take a big bearing on where we are come the end of the season.

“It’s about accumulating how many points you can in these four games, so then in the next block you have a chance at fighting for the top four.

“Everyone is looking forward to the Bristol game. It’s going to be a tough game and we know that they are a dangerous team.”

Bristol: 15. Luke Daniels; 14. Ryan Edwards, 13. Piers O’Conor, 12. Siale Piutau (co-capt), 11. Alapati Leiua; 10. Ian Madigan, 9. Harry Randall; 1. Yann Thomas, 2. Harry Thacker, 3. John Afoa, 4. John Hawkins, 5. Chris Vui, 6. Steve Luatua, 7. Dan Thomas, 8. Jordan Crane (co-capt). Replacements: 16. Nick Fenton-Wells, 17. Jake Woolmore, 18. Lewis Thiede, 19. Nick Haining, 20. Jack Lam, 21. Andy Uren, 22. Callum Sheedy, 23. Charles Piutau.

Wasps: 15 Willie Le Roux, 14 Michele Campagnaro, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Gaby Lovobalavu, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Billy Searle, 9 Dan Robson, 1 Zurabi Zhvania, 2 Tom Cruse, 3 Will Stuart, 4 Will Rowlands, 5 James Gaskell, 6 Ashley Johnson (c), 7 Thomas Young, 8 Nizaam Carr. Replacements: 16 Tommy Taylor, 17 Ben Harris, 18 Simon McIntyre, 19 Kearnan Myall, 20 Ben Morris, 21 Joe Simpson, 22 Lima Sopoaga, 23 Rob Miller

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