Quins overdose on scrum-halves

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The Independent Online

Harlequins are not obviously in need of another scrum-half. They have the Samoan international Steve So'oialo and the brilliant youngster Danny Care on their books - not to mention the versatile Simon Keogh, who can do a turn at the base of the scrum - and besides, their real issues lay among the heavy mob in the tight-five department. The Londoners, nevertheless, have signed Andy Gomarsall on a contract lasting until the end of the current Premiership season.

A member of the England squad that brought home the World Cup in 2003, the 32-year-old half-back seemed lost to the top division of the domestic game when he left Worcester last May and disappeared off the face of the earth. Having struggled to command a first-team place at Sixways ahead of one Powell, the former Harlequins professional Matt, he saw the writing on the wall when Worcester secured the services of a second, Ryan, from Cardiff Blues.

However, Quins see him as a valuable addition to a squad showing alarming signs of vulnerability on their return to the Premiership. "Andy is a very experienced player in a key position within the team," said Dean Richards, the director of rugby, yesterday. "He will have a big part to play in our Premiership campaign and will further enhance the competition for places."

Gomarsall has 23 caps in his kitbag, having made his international debut under Jack Rowell against Italy almost exactly a decade ago.

He travelled to the 2003 World Cup behind Matt Dawson and Kyran Bracken but played his part by putting two tries past the Uruguayans in the final pool fixture. A year later, he made a final appearance for his country against Australia at Twickenham.

Leinster, who boast an old Wasps colleague of Gomarsall's in the contrasting shape of the tight-head prop Will Green, have made two changes to their side for this evening's Magners League game with Llanelli Scarlets at Stradey Park.

Trevor Hogan returns at lock after recovering from ankle trouble - Adam Byrnes is the man to make way - while the Ireland international Guy Easterby replaces the long-serving Wallaby scrum-half Chris Whitaker.

The big hitters in Leinster's state-of-the-art back division - the centres Brian O'Driscoll and Gordon D'Arcy - are still out of circulation as they continue their conditioning work at the insistence of the Ireland coach Eddie O'Sullivan.

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