Preview: Worcester Warriors v Wasps

Date published: December 2 2016

Flanker Dewald Potgieter will skipper Warriors this Sunday as they take on Wasps in the West Midlands derby at Sixways.

Head coach Carl Hogg has made six changes to the side from last weekend's Premiership clash at Exeter Chiefs, with Sam Lewis set for his first Premiership start in the back row alongside Potgieter and Alafoti Faosiliva, who returns from international duty with Samoa.

In the front row, Georgia star Jaba Bregvadze is also back in the side while Nick Schonert is set for his 50th appearance for the club at tighthead. Donncha O'Callaghan returns to the starting line-up in the second row. 

In the backs, Jackson Willison starts in midfield to partner Wynand Olivier and winger Cooper Vuna returns to the team following his international debut for Tonga last weekend. 

New signing Connor Braid and back row Phil Dowson are named among the replacements while there is also a return to the first-team squad for prop James Johnston. 

Meanwhile, Dai Young has named his side to make the short trip to Sixways this Sunday.

There’s a new-look midfield after injuries have ruled out Jimmy Gopperth (knee) and Kyle Eastmond (chest). Alapati Leiua and Brendan Macken form Wasps’ centre partnership.

Wasps’ back three is made up of Rob Miller, Frank Halai and Josh Bassett, who returns from a knee injury, while Christian Wade misses out through a foot problem. Dan Robson and Danny Cipriani provide the half back combination.

The pack features the same back row and front row that started against Sale Sharks last weekend. Packing down in the second row are James Gaskell and Kearnan Myall. Matt Symons is sidelined by a foot injury.

On the bench, there could be Wasps Premiership debuts for Guy Armitage, Piers O’Conor and Ben Harris, joining Wasps Senior Academy player Jack Willis, who made his Premiership debut last Sunday.

Speaking ahead of the trip to their West Midlands neighbours, Dai Young said: “Worcester are a very tough team to crack and we are under no illusion about how hungry they will be for a win this Sunday, after a result which must have hurt them last weekend.

“Bristol are picking up bonus points here and there, which I’m sure isn’t lost on Worcester, and they probably feel they need another couple of wins to have a bit of breathing space, which makes every home game a cup final for them.”

Asked about the players he’ll be missing on Sunday, Young preferred to speak about the players he will have, and the opportunity in front of them.

“Yes we are down on numbers, he said, “but it happens and we’re no different to any other team. It’s going to be a test of our squad, but that’s what the squad is there for, and we’ll see the strength of it at Worcester. I’m looking forward to the challenge, because I like to see players who haven’t had as much game-time as they would like given opportunities, and then it’s up to them to take them.”

Form: Worcester Warriors have recorded only one win in the last thirteen rounds of the Premiership: 11-9 at home to Newcastle Falcons on 2 October. The Warriors' only other victory this season was against Bristol in the Anglo-Welsh Cup. Wasps' last five matches in the Premiership have been won by the home side on the day with their most recent away victory being 20-15 at Northampton in Round 4. Wasps have won their last four fixtures against Worcester in the Premiership since the Warriors 29-23 victory at Sixways in March 2013. 

The teams:

Worcester Warriors: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Bryce Heem, 13 Wynand Olivier, 12 Jackson Willison, 11 Cooper Vuna, 10 Jamie Shillcock, 9 Jonny Arr, 8 Alafoti Faosiliva, 7 Sam Lewis, 6 Dewald Potgieter (c), 5 Darren Barry, 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Jaba Bregvadze, 1 Val Rapava Ruskin
Replacements: 16 Jack Singleton, 17 Na'ama Leleimalefaga, 18 James Johnston, 19 Andrew Kitchener, 20 Phil Dowson , 21 Michael Dowsett, 22 Connor Braid, 23 Josh Adams

Wasps: 15 Rob Miller, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Brendan Macken, 12 Alapati Leiua, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Alex Rieder, 7 Thomas Young, 6 Ashley Johnson, 5 Kearnan Myall, 4 James Gaskell, 3 Marty Moore, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Matt Mullan (c)
Replacements: 16 Jack Willis, 17 Ben Harris, 18 Phil Swainston, 19 Will Rowlands, 20 Guy Thompson, 21 Joe Simpson, 22 Guy Armitage, 23 Piers O’Conor

Date: Sunday, December 4
Venue: Sixways
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Assistant Referees: Dean Richards, Andrew Pearce
TMO: David Sainsbury