Outspoken player welfare advocate Ellis Genge will be happy his opinions during the lockdown have certainly not damaged his standing at Leicester, as he will captain the club for the first time when they visit Wasps in the Gallagher Premiership on Wednesday.

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The England loosehead had spent the initial part of the 2019/20 season’s suspension putting together plans for a new players union, Rugby Players Epoch.

However, he became disillusioned with the laborious challenge of having to individually negotiate with all 13 stakeholder Premiership clubs and shelved the idea on June 19, just weeks before the turmoil which existed across the top-flight game in England filtered down into the Leicester set-up.

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Former Scotland international player and coach Ian McGeechan talks about the British and Irish Lions

Amid rancour over the temporary 25 per cent pay cut becoming permanent, Manu Tuilagi, Telusa Veainu, Noel Reid, Greg Bateman and Kyle Eastmond all quit the Tigers. By July 8, though, Genge has secured a contract extension at the club after he agreed to the proposed salary reduction. 

Now, nine weeks later, Genge will skipper Leicester for the first time in what will be his 74th appearance for the club. He is joined by Jake Kerr and Nephi Leatigaga in the front row.

Cameron Henderson makes his first starting appearance at lock after arriving at the club in the summer and will partner Blake Enever in the second row. In the back row, Ollie Chessum is named at blindside, Thom Smith at openside and Jordan Coghlan at No8.

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Zack Henry starts at fly-half in his fourth appearance for Tigers, partnering Ben White at half-backs. Guy Porter is included at centre alongside Dan Kelly in his first start, with Harry Simmons and Harry Potter on the wings and George Worth at full-back.

Leicester boss Steve Borthwick said: “With a short turnaround, we have made changes and provided opportunities for some players who did not feature against Sale. Ellis will captain the club for the first time and has been brilliant in the build-up this week, leading the group.

“This group of players have earned the privilege of representing the club on Wednesday and, with all Tigers teams, need to deliver a performance the club and our supporters are proud of.”

Fresh from their win at 2019 champions Saracens, high-flying Wasps welcome back Kieran Brookes from the shoulder injury he sustained in the first restart game last month against Northampton.

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Newly promoted first-team squad member, 19-year-old Alfie Barbeary, is named at blindside for his first Premiership start, and there is one potential Wasps debutant in the 23 as new signing Levi Douglas is named as a replacement. 

Charlie Atkinson, who was on the receiving end of the red-carded Owen Farrell tackle at Allianz Park, doesn’t feature.

WASPS: 15. Matteo Minozzi; 14. Zach Kibirige, 13. Malakai Fekitoa, 12. Ryan Mills, 11. Marcus Watson; 10. Jacob Umaga, 9. Dan Robson; 1. Tom West, 2. Gabriel Oghre, 3. Kieran Brookes, 4. Joe Launchbury (capt), 5. James Gaskell, 6. Alfie Barbeary, 7. Thomas Young, 8. Brad Shields. Reps: 16. Tom Cruse, 17. Simon McIntyre, 18. Jeff Toomaga-Allen, 19. Levi Douglas, 20. Jack Willis, 21. Sam Wolstenholme, 22. Jimmy Gopperth, 23. Sam Spink.

LEICESTER: 15. George Worth; 14. Harry Potter, 13. Dan Kelly, 12. Guy Porter, 11. Harry Simmons; 10. Zack Henry, 9. Ben White; 1. Ellis Genge (capt), 2. Jake Kerr, 3. Nephi Leatigaga, 4. Cameron Henderson, 5. Blake Enever, 6. Ollie Chessum, 7. Thom Smith, 8. Jordan Coghlan. Reps: 16. Charlie Clare, 17. Facundo Gigena, 18. Joe Heyes, 19. Harry Wells, 20. Sam Lewis, 21. Ben Youngs, 22. Johnny McPhillips, 23. Andrew Forsyth.

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