LEE Blackett says his “adaptable” Wasps side are ready for the challenge posed by Exeter Chiefs in tomorrow’s Gallagher Premiership final at Twickenham (Saturday, 6pm).
The Wasps head coach has named his team to take to the pitch at the national stadium, with four enforced changes made in all to the team that triumphed against Bristol Bears in last weekend’s semi-final – due to the club’s documented hit by COVID-19.
Brothers Tom and Jack Willis accompany Thomas Young in the back row, while Jeff Toomaga-Allen and Tom West enter the fray to join Tommy Taylor as Wasps’ front row trio.
Internationals Will Rowlands and captain Joe Launchbury will front the second row, with Juan de Jongh and Jimmy Gopperth as centres.
In the back line, Dan Robson and Jacob Umaga are half-backs, with Josh Bassett, Zah Kibirige and Matteo Minozzi completing the line-up.
Replacements in the form of Ben Morris, James Gaskell, Gabriel Oghre, Ben Harris, Biyi Alo, Ben Vellacott, Lima Sopoaga and Michael Le Bourgeois will take to the bench, hoping to step onto the Twickenham turf and make an impact at some point in the final.
As expected, Brad Sheilds, Kieran Brookes, Simon McIntyre and Alfie Barbeary all miss out due to testing positive for COVID-19, while Malakai Fekitoa was not able to shake off a groin injury sustained in the Bristol Bears semi-final.
But in the face of adversity before taking on the table-topping Chiefs, Blackett says his side will give everything to bring Premiership glory home to Coventry for the first time.
“If we are all being honest, it hasn’t been ideal preparation, but I have to give credit to the players because they have coped with it admirably,” he said.
“A lot of credit must also go to the staff, especially Team Manager Dave Bassett, Head of Medical Ali James and Club Doctor Ralph Mitchell. The amount of work that they have put in behind the scenes to allow us to play in this game is phenomenal.
“It has been a difficult week in terms of all of that, but the one thing that we spoke about at the start of the season is being adaptable. Now the players will do everything they can to put in a performance on Saturday. We know it will be tough, Exeter deservedly finished top of the league this season, but we are confident with the form that we can take into the game.”