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Cup absence may be blessing, insists Joe; Joe Simpson celebrates with team-mates after scoring a try against Harelquins in his final game for Wasps Rugby.

Byline: BOBBY BRIDGE Rugby Reporter bobby.bridge@reachplc.com

JOE Simpson believes Wasps' failure to qualify for the Heineken Champions Cup could prove to be a blessing in disguise.

A major rebuilding project continues this summer as 12 more players head out of the door including Simpson - who scored two tries against Harlequins in his 257th and final Wasps appearance.

While the 30-year-old can prepare for elite-level European rugby next season at his new club Gloucester, Wasps drop into the second-tier competition for the first time since the 2013/14 season.

The Black and Golds, with Simpson featuring prominently, won all six of their Pool games that season before knocking out Gloucester in the quarter-finals before losing to Bath in the last four.

"I think not having Champions Cup rugby may actually be a blessing in disguise for Wasps," said Simpson.

"Not having Champions Cup, we saw this year, when you've got some tough teams, it's a big old ask to get up for every single match.

"When you're travelling to Russia [in the Challenge Cup] and places like that, and putting 70 points on teams, it gives you the chance to rotate the squad a bit.

"Particularly for the Six Nations boys that are away the whole time, they have to put their body through hell and back. Wasps maybe have a good time to consolidate, rest a few boys, bring a few new boys through and have a good rotation."

Wasps' most-recent Heineken Champions Cup campaign saw them plunged into the group of death alongside holders Leinster, a resurgent Toulouse and Premiership rivals Bath.

When travelling and putting on teams, the chance the Joe Without the England trio of Joe Launchbury, Nathan Hughes or Dan Robson and Christian Wade absent before his retirement was formally announced, Wasps kicked off their campaign with a 52-3 loss in Dublin to Leinster.

A 35-35 draw Bath was to be as good as it got for Wasps as they lost their final four Pool games to finish with the second-worst record of all the 20 teams that entered.

Poor European form rolled over into league fortunes as a three-year run of finishing in the top four came to an end.

But Simpson is hopeful the club he joined direct from school in 2006 will not be away from dining at the top table for too long.

"Most importantly for Wasps going forward, we've got the stadium and we've got a new fan base, so we've got you're to Russia 70 points it gives you to rotate squad a bit.

the security, we're not living from year to year any more, we've had Derek [Richardson] come in and rescue the club and we're in a great position.

Simpson "So this is going to be a team that I am sure is going to be building. We have taken a step back in the last couple of years but I am sure that we are going to be top four contenders in years to come. I am sure we are going to see Wasps go from strength to strength."

consolidate, few be away tabl"When you're travelling to Russia and putting 70 points on teams, it gives you the chance to rotate the squad a bit. Joe Simpson

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:May 23, 2019
Words:544
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