Wasps start their voyage of discovery

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The Independent Online
Today Wasps find out if there is life after Rob Andrew and Dean Ryan. They could not have a harder voyage of discovery than the one facing them at Sudbury against Leicester.

Second-placed Leicester, led by Rory Underwood while captain Dean Richards completes his two-match ban, will arrive full of confidence with the news that Ryan has been replaced at lock by the previously out of favour Richard Kinsey, who has to overcome the England second row, Martin Johnson.

For Wasps, Chris Braithwaite has the unenviable task of following Andrew at stand-off. His partner at scrum-half will be Andy Gomarsall. The relegation of Steve Bates, the final member of the Sudbury "gang of four", has nothing to do with his future defection to Newcastle. According to the Wasps coach, Rob Smith, there is a rota for the No 9 spot.

Bates himself said: "It's disappointing not to play, but I recognise that Wasps have to look to the future, and that lies with the likes of Gomarsall and Co." Nick Popplewell, who is also heading to the North-east, is the only one to survive the cut and turns out at prop for the fourth- placed side.

It promises to be a match of two halves at The Stoop where the Harlequins stand-off, David Pears, comes face to face with his rival for the vacant England No 10 spot, Bath's Mike Catt. Even the omission of the England hooker Brian Moore in favour of Simon Mitchell for the visit of the league leaders takes a back seat.

The England manager, Jack Rowell, yesterday labelled Pears the heir apparent to Andrew, but the succession promises to be hotly contested.

In Wales, the Fijians open their tour with a testing fixture against Wales A at the Brewery Field, Bridgend. Lawrence Little, the brother of the New Zealand centre, Walter, makes his debut for the tourists.