Worcester Warriors v Northampton Saints Premiership Preview

Worcester Warriors host Northampton Saints at Sixways Stadium

Worcester Warriors Director of Rugby Dean Ryan has named five new summer signings to make their debuts for the Aviva Premiership club against Northampton Saints at Sixways.

Donncha O’Callaghan, Phil Dowson, Wynand Olivier, Tom Heathcote and Darren Barry are all set to make their Sixways bows while Marco Mama and Na’ama Leleimalefaga could also grab their first appearances for the Club from the bench.

A new-look second-row sees Ireland legend O’Callaghan link-up with former Cornish Pirate Barry while Dowson is set to take on his former club in the back-row alongside skipper GJ van Velze and Sam Lewis.

Scotland international Heathcote will start at fly-half with Ryan Mills at 12 and South African Olivier at outside-centre.

Chris Pennell, Cooper Vuna and Tom Biggs occupy the back three slots with the current squad’s record appearance-maker Jonny Arr at scrum-half.

Val Rapava Ruskin, Niall Annett and Nick Schonert make up the front-row as Warriors battle last season’s table-toppers.

There is also a place for Academy youngster Perry Humphreys on the bench who could win his first Premiership cap.

Director of Rugby Ryan said,”This is our opportunity to play here and represent the Club in the top flight of rugby.

“Once you get that and remember the challenges of last year, you get the excitement and we are genuinely excited about seeing Northampton here. This is exactly where we want to be.

“O’Callaghan and Olivier are here to add substance to the middle of the business while Mills, Rapava Ruskin and Charlie Mulchrone are all coming to the table wanting their opportunity but need some experience around that.

“This is a more strategic approach to see if we can get those people to up-skill themselves at this level because without it you can’t survive in the Premiership.”

Worcester Warriors return to Aviva Premiership Rugby following a one year absence but they have only been victorious in their opening fixture of a new Premiership Rugby season once before – in 2011 when they beat Sale at Sixways.

Northampton Saints are formidable in round 1 having won their first fixture for the past nine seasons, (including one in National One) since they tripped up 0-32 at Leicester in September 2005.

The Saints concluded the last Aviva Premiership Rugby campaign with back-to-back defeats, at Leicester in round 22 and at home to champions Saracens in the semi-final.

The Warriors solitary victory over The Saints in their last ten fixtures was 12-3 at Sixways in round 5 of the 2011/12 season.

Three players will make their full debuts for Northampton Saints on Friday evening.

The trio are all among the forwards – Kieran Brookes, Michael Paterson and Jamie Gibson – with replacements Paul Hill and JJ Hanrahan also in line for first Saints appearances should they feature at Sixways.

Meanwhile, Lee Dickson starts his first competitive game as club captain from scrum-half.

Match : Worcester Warriors v Northampton Saints
Date : Friday 16th October
Venue : Sixways,
Kick Off : 7.45pm
Live on: BT Sport
Match Officials
Referee :Greg Garner (83rd Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Andrew Pearce and Paul Dix.
TMO: Geoff Warren.

Teams

Worcester Warriors

15 Chris Pennell , 14 Cooper Vuna , 13 Wynand Olivier , 12 Ryan Mills , 11 Tom Biggs , 10 Tom Heathcote , 9 Jonny Arr ,8 GJ van Velze (C) , 7 Sam Lewis , 6 Phil Dowson , 5 Darren Barry , 4 Donncha O’Callaghan, 3 Nick Schonert , 2 Niall Annett, 1 Val Rapava Ruskin

Replacements : 16 Dan George , 17 Na’ama Leleimalefaga , 18 Joe Rees , 19 Darren O’Shea , 20 Marco Mama , 21 Charlie Mulchrone , 22 Alex Grove , 23 Perry Humphreys

Northampton Saints

15 Ben Foden , 14 Ken Pisi , 13 Tom Stephenson , 12 Luther Burrell , 11 Jamie Elliott , 10 Stephen Myler , 9 Lee Dickson (capt) , 1 Alex Waller , 2 Dylan Hartley , 3 Kieran Brookes , 4 Michael Paterson , 5 Christian Day , 6 Jamie Gibson , 7 Jon Fisher , 8 Sam Dickinson

Replacments : 16 Mike Haywood , 17 Ethan Waller , 18 Paul Hill , 19 Teimana Harrison , 20 Ben Nutley , 21 Kahn Fotuali’i , 22 JJ Hanrahan , 23 George Pisi

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