FLY-HALF Fin Smith will become the youngest Warriors player to start a Gallagher Premiership match when he lines up in all English qualified side against Bath Rugby at The Rec on Saturday (kick-off 2pm).
Smith became only the second 18-year-old to play for Warriors in the competition when he came on as a 76th minute replacement at Gloucester three weeks ago.
Lock Graham Kitchener remains the youngest-ever player to represent Warriors in the competition – he was 18 years and 195 days when he came on as a replacement at Wasps in April 2008, but Smith will become the first 18-year-old starter at Bath.
Smith, who will be 18 years and 313 days old on Saturday, is a current member of the Three Pears Warriors Academy and will be one of 11 players in the starting XV who have come through the club’s academy.
Smith, who began his rugby journey in the mini section at Warwickshire club Shipston-on-Stour before playing for Warwick School, is in his first year on the Senior Academy and has been included in the England Under-20s squad for this year’s rearranged Six Nations which now gets underway next month.
He is one of three Warwick School products in the side, joining full-back Nick David and number eight Tom Dodd.
Former England wing Chris Ashton, who has recovered from a head injury sustained against Bristol Bears two weeks ago, is the only member of the back division not to have come through the Academy.
Tighthead prop Joe Morris, who graduated from the Academy two years ago, will make his first start for Warriors having made five appearances off the bench last season.
With three more tightheads – Nick Schonert, Conor Carey and Richard Palframan – injured Warriors have recruited the experienced Maks van Dyk on a short-term loan from Exeter Chiefs.
Van Dyk has been named as a replacement on a bench that includes plenty of experience alongside South Africa internationals Francois Hougaard and Francois Venter and back-row Cornell du Preez, who has been released from Scotland’s Six Nations squad.
Warriors | 15 Nick David, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Oli Morris, 12 Will Butler, 11 Perry Humphreys, 10 Fin Smith, 9 Gareth Simpson, 1 Marc Thomas, 2 Isaac Miller, 3 Joe Morris, 4 Andrew Kitchener, 5 Joe Batley, 6 Ted Hill (C), 7 Matt Kvesic, 8 Tom Dodd.
Replacements | 16 Niall Annett, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Maks van Dyk , 19 Justin Clegg, 20 Cornell du Preez, 21 Francois Hougaard, 22 Billy Searle, 23 Francois Venter.
Unavailable | Anton Bresler, Conor Carey, Beck Cutting, Matt Cox, Noah Heward, Tom Howe, Sam Lewis, Marco Mama, George Merrick, Matt Moulds, Melani Nanai, Richard Palframan, Nick Schonert, Jamie Shillcock, Duncan Weir, Matti Williams. International duty | Ollie Lawrence.