Preview: Worcester v Gloucester

Date published: September 14 2012

Scotland wing Nikki Walker will make his debut for Worcester against Gloucester in Saturday's Premiership derby at Sixways.

Scotland wing Nikki Walker will make his debut for Worcester Warriors against Gloucester in Saturday's Premiership derby at Sixways.

Walker has missed the opening weeks of the season through injury, but has now been declared fully fit and goes into the starting line-up as Warriors head coach Richard Hill makes three changes to his Worcester side.

Talented back Joe Carlisle is named at inside centre alongside Alex Grove while Matt Kvesic is selected at number eight for the crunch match.

“Nikki had a very strong pre-season with us until he injured his shoulder, a blow which was hard for him to take after missing a lot of rugby over the last 12 months,” said Hill.

“However, he has returned to training and made a big impression. I'm excited to see him get his full debut for Warriors.

“We also bring Joe Carlisle into inside centre, where he has operated so well off the bench this season, and Matt Kvesic at number eight, after his showing as a replacement against Tigers. I know both will be keen to grasp the big opportunity given to them.

“I've got absolutely no doubt that with the squad of players we've assembled and the way they're training and trying to play, we will get better and better throughout the course of this season.

“However, for the coaches, players, supporters and owners, a win would be huge in the derby. We are all excited about the game and playing in front of a superb atmosphere inside Sixways.”

Meanwhile, Gloucester director of rugby Nigel Davies rotates his squad as they look to make it two wins in a row on the road in the Premiership.

The majority of the matchday squad is that which triumphed at London Irish last weekend.

One change, however, sees Shane Monahan replace Charlie Sharples on the right wing, the England man ruled out with a shoulder injury.

It's Monahan's first start in the Aviva Premiership, although he featured as a replacement at the Madejski Stadium and has been in fine try scoring form in the A League.

In addition, Billy Twelvetrees will get his first start of the season at fly-half in place of the Premiership's joint top scorer, Freddie Burns, who is named amongst the replacements.

Burns has shaken off an ankle knock he picked up at the Madejski Stadium last weekend.

However, the team have prepared for Worcester this week with Twelvetrees in the ten shirt, so the former Leicester man will start with Burns available to call upon as and when required.

Mike Tindall comes in for Twelvetrees at inside centre, partnering Henry Trinder in the midfield.

The only changes in the pack see Huia Edmonds and Rupert Harden come in at hooker and tight head respectively with Edmonds, the Australian international, making his first Premiership start for the club.

The Warriors may have started the season with two defeats but Davies knows that his side will have a fight on their hands at Sixways.

“We're still a team that is evolving,” he said.

“We've got a lot work to do and we know that it's going to be a real dog fight. What I can assure everybody is that we'll hang in there and be in that fight.

“There are elements of the game that we have to focus on and we know that, if we get those right, then we'll be in control of the game. If we don't, they will.

“We know exactly where we are, we know exactly what we have to do and we know how tough a game this is going to be.

“Worcester is so close to Gloucester that it's a huge game. I'm all too aware of what local derbies mean particularly to our supporters.

“But, from our point of view, we just want to get some momentum going as a team. We feel we've kick started our season a little bit and want to continue that momentum.”

Form: Worcester Warriors have now lost their last six games of Aviva Premiership Rugby, following defeats to Bath and Leicester in rounds one and two. The Warriors' most recent Premiership victory was against relegated Newcastle at Sixways on 23 March. Gloucester opened their 2012/13 winning account at London Irish on Saturday, following their opening day narrow loss to Northampton. Gloucester have not managed back to back wins on the
road since February 2011. Last season each side won its respective home game, whilst the Cherry & White's only victory at Sixways since 2006 came by the narrowest of margins, 23-22, on 8 May 2010.

The teams:

Worcester: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Nikki Walker, 13 Alex Grove, 12 Joe Carlisle, 11 David Lemi, 10 Andy Goode, 9 Shaun Perry, 8 Matt Kvesic, 7 Sam Betty, 6 Chris Jones, 5 Dean Schofield (c), 4 James Percival, 3 John Andress, 2 Aleki Lutui, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements: 16 Ollie Hayes, 17 Ceri Jones, 18 James Currie, 19 Craig Gillies, 20 Semisi Taulava, 21 Jonny Arr, 22 Josh Matavesi, 23 Josh Drauniniu.

Gloucester: 15 Jonny May, 14 Shane Monahan, 13 Henry Trinder, 12 Mike Tindall, 11 James Simpson-Daniel, 10 Billy Twelvetrees, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Ben Morgan 7 Andy Hazell, 6 Tom Savage, 5 Jim Hamilton (c), 4 Will James, 3 Rupert Harden, 2 Huia Edmonds, 1 Nick Wood.
Replacements: 16 Darren Dawidiuk, 17 Dan Murphy, 18 Shaun Knight, 19 Sione Kalamafoni, 20 Akapusi Qera, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Freddie Burns, 23 Rob Cook.

Date: Saturday, September 15
Venue: Sixways
Kick-off: 13:30 BST
Referee: JP Doyle
Assistant referees: Peter Huckle, Andrew Watson
Television match official: Trevor Fisher