Bok duo get their first start for Quins
PREVIEW: While this will be Chris Robshaw’s last game for Harlequins at The Twickenham Stoop before he ends his rugby career it’s the dawn of a new era for Wilco Louw and Andre Esterhuizen as they claim their first starts for the club.
Robshaw, who skippered England in 43 of his 66 international appearances, announced in February that he would be ending his 16-year spell with Harlequins at the end of the Premiership season.
The 34-year-old has since signed a two-year deal with the USA’s Major League Rugby side San Diego Legion.
Leading the side in his 299th and final home appearance Robshaw has been named in a side that features five changes from the one that played in the Premiership Rugby Cup final
Springboks Andre Esterhuizen and Wilco Louw, former Sharks and Stormer stars respectively, will get their first starts in a ‘Quins jersey after coming off the bench since they arrived at the club in recent months.
Unfortunately, last weekend’s vice-captain and fellow South African, Stephan Lewies, will not be joining them as he’s unavailable for selection after sustaining a concussion in the Premiership Final against Sale Sharks. Scrumhalf Scott Steele and wing Chris Ashton make their return to the starting XV in place of Danny Care and Nathan Earle.
Another South African in the form of summer signing Jordan Els, an ex KZN Sharks player, will make his debut off the bench for ‘Quins after having recovered from a hamstring injury that delayed his first match for the club.
Commenting ahead of Monday’s fixture, Head of Rugby, Paul Gustard said: “Monday presents one final home game for the Club this season and we’re determined to deliver and progress our game as we look to finish the season strongly”.
“While the loss against Sale was a disappointment, this is a developing team with a lot of young English players and days like those will mould this team’s future. We can take heart and confidence with the grit and effort and learn from the mistakes that prevented us lifting silverware for the first time in 7 years.
“Of course, this is a final home game for one of the greatest Harlequins in Chris Robshaw. There are few greater in this Club’s famous history than Robbo”.
“First and foremost, he is a tremendous human being whose qualities in life outweigh those on the field with his strengths and character far reaching and influencing outside the game. Without doubt he will be remembered as a true giant in the game of rugby and we are all determined to ensure his final game at The Stoop is a positive memory and befitting our love and respect for him.”
While Quins can finish no higher than sixth in the table, Wasps are bidding for a top-four finish to extend their season.
Lee Blackett’s side have had a two-week break after winning six of their seven Premiership games since the season resumed in the middle of last month.
“It’s never been more vital the way everyone’s winning at the moment so this Quins game, there’s no point going beyond that,” said Blackett, whose side will move up to second behind leaders Exeter with a bonus-point win.
“It’s two monster games and let’s take each game, game-by-game.
“Obviously we’re really pleased that we’re in this position definitely, but now we’ve got ourselves here then we’re going to have to again, do what we’ve been doing, what we’ve been doing beforehand, focus on each game and take each game as it comes.”
Prediction: Harlequins by eight points
Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Aaron Morris, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Scott Steele, 8 James Chisholm, 7 Will Evans, 6 Chris Robshaw (captain), 5 Glen Young, 4 Dino Lamb, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Santiago Garcia Botta
Replacements: 16 Elia Elia, 17 Jordan Els, 18 Simon Kerrod, 19 Tevita Cavubati, 20 Alex Dombrandt, 21 Danny Care, 22 Brett Herron, 23 James Lang
Wasps: 15 Matteo Minozzi, 14 Zach Kibirige, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Jimmy Gopperth, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Jacob Umaga, 9 Dan Robson (captain), 8 Tom Willis, 7 Jack Willis, 6 Brad Shields, 5 James Gaskell, 4 Will Rowlands, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Tom Cruse, 1 Ben Harris
Replacements: 16 Gabriel Oghre, 17 Tom West, 18 Jeff Toomaga-Allen, 19 Tim Cardall, 20 Alfie Barbeary, 21 Thomas Young, 22 Ben Vellacott, 23 Michael Le Bourgeois
Date: Monday, September 28
Venue: Twickenham Stoop, England
Kick-off: 19.45; 18.45 GMT
Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistant referees: Simon Harding & Rob Warburton
TMO: Matthew Carley
Source: @PremRugby & Rugbypass