Cipriani set for Wasps return

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The Independent Online

Danny Cipriani could make his return to first team action when Wasps resume their Amlin Challenge Cup campaign against Bayonne tomorrow.

The England international fly-half, sidelined for two months because of a fractured fibula, is on replacement duty for a second successive weekend.

He was not required during the 24-22 Guinness Premiership victory over Leicester last Sunday, and then began his comeback during an A League fixture the following evening.

"There is a real strength throughout the bench this weekend," said Wasps rugby director Tony Hanks, whose substitutes also include Paul Sackey and Simon Shaw.

"Guys are returning from injury, including Mark Robinson and Danny Cipriani, who picked up game-time as part of the A side last Monday night."

Wasps will replace Bayonne as Pool Four leaders if they beat their Adams Park opponents - but Hanks expects a tough contest.

"While Bayonne haven't had the domestic results they would have wanted, we know they are a strong side capable of competing with the best in France," he added.

"Like us, they just missed out on qualification for the Heineken Cup last season, so they will have a point to prove."

Worcester, on the back foot in Pool Two following an opening round home defeat against Montpellier, welcome unbeaten group leaders Connacht to Sixways tomorrow.

"It is a tough competition, and we have made it a little bit more hard work for ourselves by losing to Montpellier," admitted Warriors rugby director Mike Ruddock.

"It is going to be tougher than it should have been at this stage. Connacht are the form team and the side to beat.

"They went to Montpellier and won, and they will be coming here targeting this competition and looking to build on an excellent victory in France."

Scotland international centre Alex Grove returns to the Worcester side following his autumn Test appearances as one of two changes following a Premiership draw against London Irish last time out.

Grove replaces flu victim Sam Tuitupou, while hooker Chris Fortey gains a start instead of Aleki Lutui, packing down between props Adam Black and Tevita Taumoepeau.

Leeds Carnegie retain just one player - number eight Rhys Oakley - who started last week's Premiership clash against Harlequins for an away appointment with Bucuresti tomorrow.

American prop Mike MacDonald makes his first start of the season and hooker Rob Rawlinson returns from injury, while there are also opportunities for the likes of fly-half Jason Strange and centre Henry Paul.

"This is a fantastic opportunity for us to relieve the frustration we have been feeling in recent weeks following narrow defeats to Sale and Quins," said Leeds rugby director Andy Key.

"Against Quins, we scored 27 points for the first time in the league this season, and still ended up on the losing side.

"There were opportunities to win the game in the closing stages but we were not smart enough, and we have spoken about that in training this week."