Worcester Warriors v Wasps LV= Cup preview

Worcester Warriors start their Anglo Welsh LV= Cup campaign with an all-English line-up against London Wasps at Sixways Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The coaching team of Richard Hill and Phil Davies has named a starting line-up with every player being English qualified – including hooker Chris Fortey who will make his 150th appearance for the Warriors.

Chris Pennell returns to captain the team at outside centre and will line-up with Alex Crockett in midfield. Former England Sevens star Josh Drauniniu and ex-England Under-20 wing Andy Short will provide the firepower out wide while Tom Arscott occupies the full back slot.

The young half back pairing of Joe Carlisle and Ollie Frost, fresh from his impressive full league debut against London Irish, will look to get the Warriors on the front foot behind a powerful pack.

Versatile Chris Jones moves back to second row while Adam Balding will make a first start of the season. Flanker Sam Betty and prop George Porter make their full debuts for Warriors.

Hooker Ollie Hayes could make his competitive club debut from the bench alongside Ben Gulliver, Richard Muagututia and James Currie.

“The Anglo Welsh LV= Cup gives an opportunity for many players within our set-up to feature prominently in the first team and represents a new stimulus within the group,” said Forwards Coach Phil Davies.

“Both teams pride themselves on a strong defence. I used to work with Wasps Assistant Coach Rob Hoadley when he was with the Wales Under-20s so know how much of an impact he has had at Adams Park. Likewise Phil Larder has done a fantastic job on our ‘D’ this season.

“However, both teams will be tested to the full with some real attacking talent on show and we believe Josh Drauniniu and Andy Short can offer us a real threat out wide. It’s all set-up to be a very exciting game for the Sixways faithful.”

Rising stars such as Junior World Cup finalists Elliot Daly and Matt Everard get their first starts of the season while experienced Premiership campaigners such as Tom Lindsay, Ryan Davis and Chris Mayor are also named. Mayor captains the side for the first time.

With a number of players ruled out through injury, Director of Rugby Dai Young has utilised the club’s on-going partnership and development programme with top-level local clubs to name some leading Championship players in the squad with Mike Powell, Ben Russell and Joe Ajuwa (London Welsh) and Karl Rudzki (London Scottish) all wearing the Wasps colours this weekend.

Young said: “We’ve had a lot of guys ruled out this weekend with various bumps and bruises and we’re also using the opportunity to give a few players who have played non-stop for six weeks a bit of a breather.

“This game offers a real opportunity for the players who are chomping at the bit to get in the starting team week in week out. The challenge for them is to step-up and show us what they have got. I want to thank London Welsh and London Scottish for allowing us to use some of their top players this weekend. We’re continuing to develop strong partnerships with these clubs which is really important for us, especially with our squad size.”

Elsewhere, Jeremy Castex, Lindsay and Simon McIntyre make up a solid front row with all three having featured for the club in the Premiership this season to good effect. Powell joins former All Black Ross Filipo in the second row, while the back row features three of the club’s most exciting young prospects in the form of James Harris, Everard and Joe Burton.

Youngster Jonah Holmes gets the nod at 9, having featured on the bench for most of this season’s Premiership games and outside him, Mayor and Daly form an exciting midfield partnership while Charlie Ingall and Alex Cheesman get their first starts out wide with Jack Wallace at number 15.

Match :Worcester Warriors v Wasps
Date :Satur

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