Stephan Lewies has urged his fellow forwards to deliver the front foot ball to allow Marcus Smith to shine when Harlequins return to action against Wasps at The Stoop.

Captain Lewies is one of three changes made by Quins for the visit of Lee Blackett’s men, having made his return from a knee injury in the win over London Irish last time out.

It will be the 29-year-old South African’s first start since March as the hosts look to maintain their place in the Premiership top four as the season reaches the business end.

And the lock believes the key to getting the right result on Sunday will be ensuring that the Quins set piece continues to provide the platform for their sensational fly-half.

“I’m very excited, I always enjoy playing against Wasps,” said Lewies. “We’re back at The Stoop so the boys are really excited. Every weekend you have to restart, rebuild.

“That’s what we’re doing, each game at a time for now but we’re excited. The boys are training hard, smiles on their faces and we’re enjoying our rugby at the moment.

“I tore my ACL with a bit of a freak accident, almost belly flopping on my knee in the back of the scrum. Rehab went very well, six weeks and I’m back.

“I’m sure the lungs will be burning in the first game, first start back, but I’m really looking forward to it. The past results don’t count for anything, we’ve spoken about that.

“That’s in the past and we have to start again, we have to. Our set piece has to function, Bomb (Adam Jones) and Jerry (Flannery) have put in a lot of work along with the players.

“We pride ourselves on the set piece and we have dangerous backs so we want to give them good ball, give Marcus (Smith) that ball on the front foot and let him do his thing.

“I think he’s shown this year how much he’s grown, a world class player and I think there are big things for him to come. It’s up to us to give him that platform to showcase his talent.”

In addition to Lewies’ return, Academy product Jack Kenningham comes in at openside in place of injured back row Will Evans while centre Luke Northmore starts at inside centre.

From the bench, Quins Academy product Archie White joins internationals Santiago Garcia Botta, James Lang and Paul Lasike in returning to the matchday 23 as part of the replacements.

Harlequins scrum coach Adam Jones said: “We enjoyed a good result the last time we faced Wasps, and we fully expect them to come to The Stoop looking to set their record straight.

“Much like ourselves, Wasps like to play some attractive rugby, so there should be some great skills on show this weekend.

“We’ve had the benefit of a week off and are heading into this one fresh and motivated to maintain our momentum as we head towards the end of season run-in.”

Harlequins: 15. Mike Brown, 14. Tyrone Green, 13. Joe Marchant, 12. Luke Northmore, 11. Cadan Murley, 10. Marcus Smith, 9. Danny Care; 1. Joe Marler, 2. Scott Baldwin, 3. Wilco Louw, 4. Matt Symons, 5. Stephan Lewies, 6. Tom Lawday, 7. Jack Kenningham, 8. Alex Dombrandt.

Replacements: 16. Joe Gray, 17. Santiagio Garcia Botta, 18. Will Collier, 19. Dino Lamb, 20. Archie White, 21. Martin Landajo, 22. James Lang, 23. Paul Lasike.