Aviva Premiership match preview: London Wasps v Northampton
Last Updated: 23/03/13 2:10pm
Lock Tom Palmer has been included in Wasps' starting XV for Saturday's Aviva Premiership clash with Northampton Saints at Adams Park.
Palmer, who has spent over three months on the sidelines with injury, returns to partner Marco Wentzel in the hosts' second row.
Wasps also welcome back their international contingent this week with Joe Launchbury, James Haskell and Andrea Masi all returning to black and gold following their efforts in the Six Nations.
However, coach Dai Young has resisted the urge to name those three players in the starting line-up and they instead take their places on the bench.
There are starts for Chris Bell, who will make his 150th Premiership appearance in the centres, and Billy Vunipola, who gets the nod at number eight; while another landmark sees scrum-half Joe Simpson line up for his 100th appearance for Wasps.
Also back from international duty, Dylan Hartley has been named as Northampton's captain for Saturday's trip down the M1, while England colleague Courtney Lawes also makes the Saints starting XV.
Tom Wood, who was so impressive for England throughout the Six Nations, has to make do with a spot on the bench, and elsewhere there are starts for Ben Foden, Dom Waldouck and Tom Mercey.
Hartley insists the visitors will be well aware of the dangers that will be posed by Wasps, stating: "Wasps are a good team and if you don't turn up on the day they can put a lot of points on you. Their wingers get talked about a lot, but if you look at people like Billy Vunipola in their back row they've got a lot of quality there as well.
"Saturday's game isn't about setting down a marker, but more about a matter of winning and securing our place in the top four, especially against a team that's hot on our heels. We've got some tough games coming up, so we need to put some space between us and the teams below us and try to keep going forward."
London Wasps: 15 Hugo Southwell, 14 Tom Varndell, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Chris Bell 11 Christian Wade, 10 Stephen Jones, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Sam Jones, 6 Ashley Johnson, 5 Marco Wentzel, 4 Tom Palmer, 3 Phil Swainston, 2 T Rhys Thomas, 1 Tim Payne
Replacements: 16 Tom Lindsey, 17 Zak Taulafo, 18 Will Taylor, 19 James Haskell, 20 Joe Launchbury, 21 Stuart Cummins, 22 Nick Robinson, 23 Andrea Masi
Northampton Saints: 15 Ben Foden, 14 James Wilson, 13 George Pisi, 12 Dom Waldouck, 11 Jamie Elliott, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 GJ van Velze, 7 Phil Dowson, 6 Samu Manoa, 5 Christian Day, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Tom Mercey, 2 Dylan Hartley (c), 1 Soane Tonga'uiha
Replacements: 16 Ross McMillan, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Brian Mujati, 19 Tom Wood, 20 Ben Nutley, 21 Martin Roberts, 22 Ryan Lamb, 23 Tom May
Fri 8th May
Harlequins0 - 0Bath
Sat 9th May
Sale Sharks0 - 0Newcastle Falcons
Gloucester0 - 0London Irish
Northampton0 - 0London Welsh
Wasps0 - 0Leicester Tigers
Sun 10th May
Saracens0 - 0Exeter
Sat 16th May
Bath0 - 0Gloucester
Exeter0 - 0Sale Sharks
Leicester Tigers0 - 0Northampton
London Irish0 - 0Wasps
London Welsh0 - 0Saracens
Newcastle Falcons0 - 0Harlequins
Aviva Premiership 2012/13 Round 18
London Irish and Sale Sharks both took a major step towards Aviva Premiership survival after sharing a 33-33 draw.
Gloucester have made five changes to their side for Friday's clash with defending champions Harlequins.
We look back at some of the highlights from the weekend's action in Premiership.
- McCall salutes England stars
- Sarries charge over Quins
- Narrow loss frustrates Young
- Tigers hunt down Chiefs
- Jones rouses beaten Welsh
- Irish pack delights Smith
- Wasps hurt by Saints
- Irish ease relegation fears
- Burns too hot for Welsh
- Diamond praises tough Sharks
- Sale boost survival hopes
- London Irish v Worcester:Teams
- Gloucester v L Welsh: Teams
- Exeter v Leicester: Teams
- Saracens v Harlequins: Teams
- Sale v Bath: Teams