Preview: Worcester v London Irish

Date published: September 13 2013

Worcester scrum-half Paul Hodgson will face his former London Irish team-mates in Saturday's Aviva Premiership clash at Sixways.

Worcester scrum-half Paul Hodgson will face his former London Irish team-mates when the sides meet in Saturday's Aviva Premiership clash at Sixways

Hodgson has been recalled to the starting line-up for Warriors' first home game of the season after impressing from the bench during last weekend's trip to Leicester Tigers.

Euan Murray also returns to the side after missing last Sunday's match due to religious reasons. Paul Andrew will join the Scotsman in the front-row, for his first start for Warriors.

Chris Jones will start at lock in place of Dean Schofield as Warriors aim to start their home campaign with victory.

The entire back-line keep their place as Director of Rugby Dean Ryan hands starts to Chris Pennell, Josh Drauniniu, Ravai Fatiaki, Josh Matavesi and David Lemi.

“There have been a couple of changes as five or six places are quite tight,” said Ryan.

“Some of the decisions are specific to London Irish as they're a different challenge to Leicester.

“I'm not changing for the sake of it or for the sake of their form, but I am changing it because there are five or six lads challenging to potentially get in this team every week.

“And where we've got competition I've got to keep those places lively. It will be a different game to Leicester as it is the other end of the spectrum.

“Irish have some dangerous runners and will be a threat on the counter-attack so we need to be really clear on our objectives and try to squeeze them.”

Meanwhile, Chris Hala'ufia will make his 100th appearance for London Irish in this fixture.

Tomás O'Leary will captain the Exiles with David Paice, who has just signed a new three-year contract extension, vice-captain for the match. Andrew Fenby will make his first start for the club on the wing.

Matt Parr, David Paice and Halani Aulika make up the front-row. Kieran Low and Nic Rouse will partner in the second-row. Jon Fisher, Ofisa Treviranus and Hala'ufia will play together in the back-row.

Ian Humphreys will partner O'Leary in the halves with Eamonn Sheridan and Guy Armitage forming the centre combination. England international, Marland Yarde, Andrew Fenby and Topsy Ojo will make up the back three.

“We have made a couple of changes for Worcester. They are playing their first match at home so we know they will be up for it,” said London Irish boss Brian Smith.

“We have a couple of significant milestones with Chris Hala'ufia playing his 100th game for the club and Andrew Fenby getting his first start on the wing. The boys are excited at the challenge and raring to go.”

Form:Worcester Warriors are on a run of six successive Premiership defeats. They now play host to London Irish, who themselves have won just one of their last five Premiership encounters, that a 47-28 win over London Welsh back in April. Worcester's most recent victory at Sixways was against opposition from London however with the Warriors taking down London Wasps 29-23 on March 1 last season. The Exiles also won just once on the road in the Aviva Premiership last term but the Warriors insist they aren't getting caught up in facts and figures ahead of the clash. Worcester claimed their first victory over London Irish, who lost 42-20 to Saracens at the London Double Header last weekend, in 13 Aviva Premiership encounters last season.

The teams:

Worcester Warriors: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Josh Drauniniu, 13 Ravai Fatiaki, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 David Lemi, 10 Ignacio Mieres, 9 Paul Hodgson, 8 Semisi Taulava, 7 Sam Betty, 6 Jonathan Thomas (capt), 5 Chris Jones, 4 Mike Williams, 3 Euan Murray, 2 Ed Shervington, 1 Paul Andrew.
Replacements 16 Nick Seymour, 17 Ofa Fainga'anuku, 18 John Andress, 19 Dean Schofield, 20 Jake Abbott, 21 Jeremy Su'a, 22 Danny Gray, 23 Jon Clarke.

London Irish: 15 Topsy Ojo, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 Guy Armitage, 12 Eamonn Sheridan, 11 Andrew Fenby, 10 Ian Humphreys, 9 Tomás O'Leary (capt), 8 Chris Hala'ufia, 7 Ofisa Treviranus, 6 Jon Fisher, 5 Kieran Low, 4 Nic Rouse, 3 Halani Aulika, 2 David Paice, 1 Matt Parr.
Replacements: 16 Jimmy Stevens, 17 John Yapp, 18 Leo Halavatau, 19 Bryn Evans, 20 Jebb Sinclair, 21 Declan Danaher, 22 Shane Geraghty, 23 Darren Allinson.

Date: 14 September
Kick-off:15:00 BST
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth
Assistant referees: Roy Maybank, Andrew Pearce
Timekeeper: Mike Hamlin
Television match official: Rowan Kitt
Assessor: Nigel Yates