Saracens v Wasps, Aviva Premiership, December 26
Henson set for Sarries bow
December 24, 2010
Gavin Henson tests his skills at Wembley stadium © Getty Images
The Wembley stage is set on Sunday for the much-anticipated return to rugby of Gavin Henson but there will be far more at stake for both Saracens and Wasps.
Wembley has proved to be a happy hunting ground for Sarries in the past, having won all three of their previous Premiership games there, and victory over Racing Metro in Paris on Friday will have given them confidence of performing well on the big stage once again.
However, Wasps are on a charge. They have won their last six fixtures and won five of their last six in the Aviva Premiership. And after much speculation earlier in the season that Henson's ultimate destination would be Adams Park, the likes of Dave Walder and Riki Fltuey will be out to overshadow the Welshman's return.
Saracens - Player to Watch: It's been hard to avoid Gavin Henson in recent weeks but we are finally about to see if the Welsh centre can hit the ground running after almost two years away from the game. He's been named on the bench and you're forgiven for spending plenty of time starting at the replacements' bench.
Saracens - Team News: Deon Carstens, Carlos Nieto, Ernst Joubert and captain Steve Borthwick all return to the starting line-up, while a fit again Alex Goode joins Henson on the bench.
Wasps - Player to Watch:With a new contract under his arm, Joe Simpson can now focus on winning a place in the England squad and where better to start his own campaign but on the Wembley turf. The scrum-half needs to get his side ticking, with ball carriers like Andy Powell and Joe Worsely key to their gameplan.
Wasps - Team News: Andy Powell returns after missing Wasps' win over the Dragons with a calf injury. Will Matthews returns to the bench, where the Londoners welcome Tim Payne back after a knee injury.
Key Battle: Owen Farrell has been in fine form of late but with two prospective rivals on the bench, Henson and Goode, he will want to show Dave Walder that he can cut it with the more experienced Premiership fly-halves.
Trivia: The last four encounters between the two sides have all been won by the hosts on the day
Stats: Wasps winger Tom Varndell is once again at the top of the try-scoring charts with six alongside London Irish's Topsy Ojo
Quote Unquote: "I feel refreshed mentally and physically. I'm hoping that will give me an edge and the adrenaline side of stuff when I do start playing will get me through. There will be a bit of banter in rucks and stuff and they may be out to get me a little bit. I don't mind that." - The returning Gavin Henson is ready to go.
"Playing at Wembley adds another dimension to this fixture and I think everyone is really excited by the opportunity to be a part of this game. It is a great platform to get people excited by rugby and we are pleased our supporters get to enjoy the big day out." - Wasps director of rugby Tony Hanks is relishing the big stage at Wembley.
Fantasy: Can you afford to go without the express speed and superior strike rate of Varndell in your fantasy team? Time to grab the on-form winger? ESPNscrum Fantasy Rugby Game
Prediction: With both sides hitting form and potentially second place in the table within their reach, it promises to be a spectacle worthy of the stadium. Sarries to edge it.
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