DANNY Cipriani will make his eagerly anticipated Wasps return on Sunday after being selected to start Sunday’s Aviva Premiership opener against Exeter Chiefs at the Ricoh Arena.
The 28-year-old will wear the Wasps jersey again roughly six years on from his last appearance, forming the half-back partnership with Dan Robson.
Ciprani is one of four new signings name in Dai Young’s match day squad with Tommy Taylor, Marty Moore and Matt Symons set to make their competitive Wasps debuts.
Fly-half Jimmy Gopperth lines up at inside centre, providing another playmaker in Wasps midfield alongside Elliot Daly, with injuries ruling out Kyle Eastmond, Alapati Leiua and Kurtley Beale at 12.
Wasps back three has a more familiar look, made up of Rob Miller, Christian Wade and Josh Bassett, who have all impressed during pre-season.
James Gaskell forms the second row partnership with skipper Joe Launchbury, and is raring to go for his first competitive start after a six-month injury lay-off.
Lining up alongside Nathan Hughes and Sam Jones in the backrow, Guy Thompson makes his first competitive appearance since injury struck against Toulon in the Champions Cup in January.
Matt Mullan and Phil Swainston provide the foundations up front, while Jake Cooper-Woolley misses out with injury.
Wasps director of rugby Dai Young said: “We know each other pretty well after a number of meetings last season.
“We just edged it against Exeter in the European Quarter Final, but they knocked us out in the Premiership Semi Final and beat us at home in the league last season, so we know how tough an outfit they are and have huge respect for what Rob Baxter and his squad have achieved over the past few seasons, deservedly reaching the Premiership Final.
“Exeter bring a lot of intensity in defence and their attack is exceptional, especially when they get into your 22. Any small slip-ups will be punished, so we need to make sure we take our attack to them, but are disciplined in what we do.
“The players are itching for competitive rugby to start after a tough pre-season, including games against Yorkshire Carnegie and Bristol Rugby, and both sides will be determined to hit the ground running. I’ve no doubt this will be the tightest, most competitive Aviva Premiership yet.”
Wasps team for Exeter Chiefs:
15. Rob Miller
14. Christian Wade
13. Elliot Daly
12. Jimmy Gopperth
11. Josh Bassett
10. Danny Cipriani
9. Dan Robson
1. Matt Mullan
2. Tommy Taylor
3. Phil Swainston
4. Joe Launchbury ©
5. James Gaskell
6. Sam Jones
7. Guy Thompson
8. Nathan Hughes
16. Ashley Johnson
17. Simon McIntyre
18. Marty Moore
19. Matt Symons
21. Joe Simpson
23. Frank Halai
Unavailable for selection through injury:
Forwards – Jake Cooper-Woolley, James Haskell, Kearnan Myall, Thomas Young
Backs – Guy Armitage, Kurtley Beale, Kyle Eastmond, Alapati Leiua
Willie Le Roux – to arrive February from Cannon Eagles, Japan.