Wasps stalwart Volley uproots for fresh challenge in France

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There is a welter of Anglo-French to-ings and fro-ings. Paul Volley, one of the longest-serving players on Wasps' books, is to leave the club at the end of the season to join the French club, Castres.

Volley, 32, who scored the second of Wasps four tries in the epic Heineken Cup semi-final against Irish side Munster last Saturday, said: "I feel I need a new challenge and France offers that.

"When the offer came up, I spoke to my wife Jo, who is pregnant with our second child, and we both decided it was a great idea. The two-year contract I've signed with Castres could possibly be the last two years of my career." The flanker joined Wasps as a teenager and added: "I've been at Wasps for almost half my life and there comes a time when you need a change. I've had a fantastic time here, having won two Tetley's and two League Cups.

"Wasps is a fantastic club and we've done some wonderful things over the years and it will be sad to leave. I have two outstanding things still to achieve in my career; one of them is winning the Heineken Cup, the other to earn a full England cap. Being realistic, my chances of winning the Heineken Cup is more of a possibility now that we've reached the final."

One man who will be leaving France to come over to England is Pat Howard. The former Wallaby is expected to be confirmed this morning as Leicester's new assistant coach, with responsibility for the backs. Howard is presently with the French club, Montferrand, who he has helped reach the final of the Parker Challenge Cup.

In contrast, Chris Malone, another Australian, is staying put. He has just agreed a new one-year deal with the Premiership leaders Bath.

It was Malone's 40-metre drop goal that gave Bath a narrow victory over London Irish at the Madejski Stadium, a feat he repeated one week later against the same opposition to snatch back the game after a late Paul Sackey try.

Malone, 26, who has started 13 games this season, said the prospect of Heineken Cup rugby combined with his love of the city, made the decision to commit an easy one.

"I am very happy to be signing a new deal," he said. "I enjoy it here at the club and in Bath itself, which is a great rugby city. I am very excited at the prospect of playing in the Heineken Cup next season."

England will revert to a traditional Saturday match-day for their three autumn internationals against Canada, South Africa and Australia at Twickenham, and they will also kick-off at the once conventional time of 2.30pm. The dates are Canada on 13 November, South Africa on 20 November and Australia on 27 November.