Premiership final: Wasps missing 11 players

Rugby

Wasps head coach Lee Blackett said 11 of his players are unavailable for Saturday’s English Premiership final against Exeter Chiefs because of COVID-19 concerns.

The players who are missing out on Wasps’ return to the Twickenham showpiece for the first time in three years have either tested positive for the coronavirus or been in close contact with someone who has tested positive.

Blackett said four of the players ruled out would have likely featured in his matchday 23.

“It’s not ideal preparation but you could argue we’ll be fresh,” Blackett told reporters on Thursday. “We’ve had two weeks rest, and we trained really, really well yesterday.

“We’ve got 33 players to pick from and 11 unavailable. It’s gut-wrenching for those who will miss out but the health and safety of players and families is more important.”

Bristol Bears, who were beaten by Wasps in the semifinals, were on standby to replace the Coventry-based side in the final.

On Wednesday, however, Wasps got the green light to play the final after the latest round of testing, which were all negative.

“Finals are emotional anyway and for us it’s been such an emotional week,” Blackett said. “Everybody was excited to be back, but we needed to control ourselves because we need to save that emotion for the weekend.”

Saturday’s final is a rematch of the 2017 title decider which Exeter won 23-20 in extra time.

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