Aviva Premiership - Round 5
Saints rocked by Pisi blow ahead of Wasps
September 28, 2012
George Pisi is set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines © Getty Images
Northampton Saints host London Wasps at Franklin's Gardens on Friday night and they will be hoping to continue their unbeaten start to the 2012-13 Aviva Premiership season.
The Saints have shown no ill-effects of having lost Chris Ashton to Saracens at the end of last season and alongside Harlequins, they are one of the two teams to start round five of the Premiership with four wins from four. But they have suffered a huge blow in the run up to the fixture following the news that star centre George Pisi is set for a number of weeks on the sidelines.
"George has damaged his shoulder, hopefully it's not too bad," coach Jim Mallinder told the Northampton Chronicle. "Hopefully it won't require surgery, we don't think it will but he'll be out for a number of weeks. We're not too sure in terms of how long it will be. You've got to see how he reacts to it.
"It's an injury which for some people might be a few weeks, for others it might be a bit longer. We've just got to see how George reacts."
With Pisi sidelined, Dom Waldouck starts in the centres alongside Luther Burrell. The other change to the XV sees Tom Wood get the nod at openside in place of Phil Dowson who drops to the bench.
For Wasps, it will be a special day for prop Tim Payne. He will be playing his 250th game for the club in his 10th season at Wasps. Coach Dai Young paid tribute to the loose-head saying: "Tim has been a tremendous servant to London Wasps and English rugby and he continues to perform at the very highest level for his club. He has been an ever-present in the front row since I have been here and is one of the key leaders within the group we have here."
Young has also opted to shuffle his pack after seeing his side lose to Gloucester last weekend. James Bailey makes his Wasps debut while there are also starts for Chris Bell, Tom Lindsay, Billy Vunipola and Nick Robinson. Joe Launchbury starts in the back-row ahead of Jonathan Poff. On the bench, Sam Jones could make his first appearance of the season with Lee Thomas sitting alongside him - he comes in for Stephen Jones who has suffered from a stomach bug this week.
Friday's other match sees Worcester host London Irish at Sixways. The Warriors are yet to win a match this season but it has not been for want of trying. They lost to Bath in the first game of the season in the final minute, drew with Gloucester thanks to a last gasp kick from Cherry and Whites fly-half Freddie Burns and nearly completed a sensational comeback against Northampton lost week where they lost 37-31 but were at one stage 37-3 down.
They have made three changes for the match with Josh Matavesi handed a spot in the centres after he shone last week against Northampton and he will line up alongside Alex Grove. Jonny Arr will partner Andy Goode at half-back with Shaun Perry sidelined. Promising flanker-come-number eight Matt Kvesic is given the No.8 jersey with Jon Clarke potentially in line for his debut if he gets his chance from the bench.
The Exiles shipped 123 points in their opening three matches of the season but came back against Bath last weekend and recorded their first victory of the season. Sailosi Tagicakibau starts on the wing for the first time this season with David Paice getting the nod at hooker ahead of Scott Lawson. Steve Shingler starts at inside centre with Ian Humphreys at half-back.
Elsewhere at the weekend, the ESPN cameras will take in Leicester's match against Exeter at Welford Road. Leicester have handed a debut to Dan Bowden with other changes seeing George Chuter and Logovi'i Mulipola coming into the forward pack with Thomas Waldrom starting at No.8 and Jordan Crane shifting to blindside. The Chiefs have made two changes to their side with back-row James Phillips out injured with Tom Johnson coming in. In the backs, Jason Shoemark starts in place of Phil Dollman.
Tom Johnson is back in the Exeter line-up © Getty Images
Saturday's other match sees Bath entertain Sale. It will be an emotional day at the Rec with the home side bidding farewell to Olly Barkley before he journeys to Racing Metro. Barkley will line up alongside Michael Claassens at half-back with Stephen Donald starting at inside centre. David Wilson gets the nod at tight-head with Paul James starting on the other side of the front-row. Dave Attwood gets his first start of the season and partners Stuart Hooper in the second-row.
Sale have made six changes to the side that lost to London Welsh last weekend. Danny Cipriani is dropped with Nick Macleod starting at fly-half. Macleod is alongside Cillian Willis at half-back while James Doyle makes his senior debut for the Sharks in the back-row. Will Addison returns to the squad after a two game absence, whilst Dwayne Peel, Richie Gray and Henry Thomas are ruled out through injury.
On Sunday, unbeaten Harlequins host Saracens at the Stoop. Quins have made two changes with Sam Stegmann starting on the wing and Tom Guest getting the nod at blindside. Ross Chisholm is out for eight weeks which has given Ollie Lindsay-Hague the chance to impress if he gets his opportunity from the bench.
Sarries have shuffled their pack with Rhys Gill getting his first start of the season. Schalk Brits, Petrus du Plessis, Ernst Joubert, Richard Wigglesworth, Chris Wyles, Joel Tomkins and captain Steve Borthwick also return to the starting line-up. On the bench, John Smit comes into the matchday 23 while there are also first outings of the season for second row George Kruis, flanker Andy Saull and wing David Strettle
Sunday's other fixture sees Gloucester travelling to London Welsh. The Exiles have made just one change from the side that Sale with Seb Jewell starting at fullback, Tom Arscott shifting to the wing and Phil MacKenzie dropping to the bench. Gloucester have changed three for the trip with Mike Tindall starting in the centres, Huia Edmonds getting the nod at hooker and Peter Buxton coming into the back-row with Ben Morgan sitting out the match due to a dead calf.
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