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29th May, 2022

TEAM NEWS: Van der Merwe returns as Warriors launch bid to reach Premiership Rugby Cup final for first time

Rob George 26th Apr, 2022

BRITISH and Irish Lions and Scotland wing Duhan van der Merwe will return from a rib injury to start for Warriors in Wednesday’s Premiership Rugby Cup semi-final against Gloucester Rugby at Kingsholm (kick-off 7.45pm).

Van der Merwe suffered a sore rib against Newcastle Falcons four weeks ago but he has recovered and comes into a strong side as Warriors attempt to reach the final of the competition for the first time.

There are 14 players in the matchday 23 who have already played in the competition this season and 11 who are products of the Three Pears Warriors Academy.

One of those players, Noah Heward, returns at full-back having recovered from the head injury he sustained in the first minute of the Newcastle match.

Alex Hearle switches from the wing to the centre, where he will partner Seb Atkinson, and lock James Scott is recalled for his third start in the competition this season.

The side will be captained by loosehead prop Ethan Waller who will have hooker Isaac Miller and tighthead prop Jack Owlett alongside him for the first time in the front row.

South Africa international centre Francois Venter, who returned after a three-month lay-off with calf injury against Wasps on Saturday, is named among the replacements.

England Under-18s lock Harvey Cuckson has also been named among the replacements although a late call will be made on whether he or Kyle Hatherell will fill that berth.

Cuckson, who has yet to make his debut, was an unused replacement in the final group match against Bath last month which Warriors won 13-7 to qualify for the semi-finals.

Warriors | 15 Noah Heward, 14 Tom Howe, 13 Alex Hearle, 12 Seb Atkinson, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Fin Smith, 9 Gareth Simpson, 1 Ethan Waller (C), 2 Isaac Miller, 3 Jack Owlett, 4 Andrew Kitchener, 5 James Scott, 6 Jack Forsythe, 7 Sam Lewis, 8 Sione Vailanu.

Replacements | 16 Niall Annett, 17 Kai Owen, 18 Christian Judge, 19 Graham Kitchener, 20 Kyle Hatherell or Harvey Cuckson, 21 Ollie Wynn, 22 Jamie Shillcock, 23 Francois Venter.

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