Return of Flutey takes back seat to Wasps' battle for play-off place

Weekend Preview


Wasps v Bath


On any other day, the re-signing of the England centre Riki Flutey would have dominated the Wasps agenda.

Flutey has been released by Brive, the French Top 14 club he agreed to join this time last year, and is returning to London immediately for surgery on a troublesome shoulder condition that should allow him to play a full part in the former champions' build-up to next season – good news indeed, seeing that all the major player movement at the club has been through the door marked "exit" just recently.

The Wasps hierarchy can be forgiven for pushing Flutey to the backs of their minds on this occasion, however. They have the small matter of this evening's meeting with Bath, their rivals for semi-final qualification, at Twickenham – a contest that will draw upwards of 60,000 spectators to the old cabbage patch. A victory for the West Countrymen would, barring a strange mathematical development, propel them into the top four at their hosts' expense and give them every chance of progress.

Wasps have restored Mark van Gisbergen to their back division, recalled Tim Payne at prop and handed a back-row starting place to Joe Worsley. Bath, meanwhile, have picked the Australian centre Matt Carraro ahead of Shontayne Hape – hardly the best news for the latter, given his England summer tour ambitions.

Leeds v Worcester

If the Twickenham game has some pressure attached to it, the real heat will be generated at Headingley tomorrow. If Worcester win, they will have an even-money chance of staying in the Premiership. If they take nothing from the contest, they will be relegated by tea-time.

The fun and games started yesterday when Cecil Duckworth, the unusually generous benefactor at the heart of the Worcester venture, accused Leeds of narrowing the playing surface. "If we played them 10 times on a decent surface and on the right-sized pitch, we'd win more often than them," he said. "We must visit this issue of changing the size of the field. It doesn't run well with me."

Pat Sanderson, the Worcester captain, has recovered from the heavy battering he took during last weekend's defeat by Wasps. Leeds, meanwhile, have made one enforced change to the side that won at London Irish six days ago, calling Kearnan Myall into the back row for the injured Calum Clark.

Northampton v Saracens

Soane Tonga'uiha, rated so highly that today's combatants signed him simultaneously, will be the subject of considerable interest at Franklin's Gardens today, even though the visitors have accepted he will not be joining them next season. Victory will guarantee Northampton a home semi-final and they have an eager look about them as they go in at something close to full strength. Saracens have promoted Glen Jackson, Neil de Kock, Mouritz Botha and the scary-looking Jacques Burger to their starting line-up.

Leicester v Harlequins

Leicester should nail a home semi-final this afternoon, even though their hard-working No 8 Jordan Crane has been ruled out by injury. Harlequins will stay in the hunt for automatic Heineken Cup qualification only if they win with a bonus point and Bath draw a blank.

Gloucester v London Irish

Gloucester, out of the Heineken Cup running as things stand, have rather less to play for than London Irish, who must win to retain a realistic hope of a Premiership semi-final. The Exiles have Richard Thorpe back at No 8.

Sport
Australia vs New Zealand live
cricket Follow over-by-over coverage as rivals New Zealand and Australia face off
News
Zayn has become the first member to leave One Direction. 'I have to do what feels right in my heart,' he said
peopleWe wince at anguish of fans, but his 1D departure shows the perils of fame in the social media age
Life and Style
Researchers found that just 10 one-minute swill-and-spit sessions are enough to soften tooth enamel and make teeth vulnerable to erosion
health
News
i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Regent Street Cinema’s projection room in the 1920s
film
News
Leah Devine is only the ninth female to have made the Young Magician of the Year final since the contest began more than 50 years
peopleMeet the 16-year-old who has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year
News
Jonathan Anderson was born in Northern Ireland but now based between London, where he presents a line named JW Anderson
peopleBritish designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
News
Andy Davidhazy at the beginning (left) and end (right) of his hike
video
News
Taylor Swift is applying to trademark song lyrics from 1989
people
Voices
The popularity of TV shows such as The Liver Birds encouraged Liverpudlians to exaggerate their Scouse accent
voicesWe exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing