Warriors make 14 changes for European opener - The Worcester Observer
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Warriors make 14 changes for European opener

Worcester Editorial 13th Nov, 2015 Updated: 19th Oct, 2016

HEAD coach Carl Hogg has urged his much-changed Warriors side to express themselves when they launch their European Challenge Cup campaign tomorrow (Saturday).

Warriors have made 14 changes for their opener against La Rochelle at Sixways as Hogg looks to give players, who have yet to feature in the Aviva Premiership, a chance to stake their claim.

Matt Cox is the only survivor from the side that defeated Newcastle Falcons last week as Carl Kirwan is set for his debut and Dean Hammond has been recalled from his loan spell at Nottingham Rugby.

With no LV= Cup campaign this season, Hogg said it was important they used the tournament as an opportunity to offer youngsters and fringe players an ‘avenue’ to showcase their skills.

However, having secured back-to-back home wins in the top flight, Hogg insisted it was also vital to keep their impressive run of form going.

“It has been a long pre-season and they have had to be patient over the first month, so Saturday’s match is a chance for them,” he said.

“But the key is that we perform as a team. That is what has got us merits over the last month and it is key that those who have not played channel their intent in the right fashion.

“Last year the B&I Cup and the A League fixtures were fantastic for us as a squad as everyone got their opportunity and challenge for the jersey.

“This year is slightly different because of the nature of a condensed season, so we have got to utilse these European windows.

“It is critcial that they get an avenue to be able to express themselves.

“Europe is an opportunity for them, but it is just as important to keep that momentum for the next couple of weeks.”

Scrum-half Charlie Mulchrone will captain Warriors as part of a half-back combination with Ryan Lamb, while Ben Howard and Tom Biggs will join Hammond in the back line.

In the centre, Ravai Fatiaki and Max Stelling who have occupied the Worcester Cavaliers centre partnership this season, get their first Warriors starts of the campaign.

Ryan Bower, Ben Sowrey and Joe Rees start in the front row, while Darren O’Shea and Fiji international Tevita Cavubati occupy the second row and Sam Betty has been named at six.

Hogg added: “We said we wanted some consistency in the first block of four Premiership games but now it’s a chance for some of the players who worked equally hard to get their chance, so this will be an exciting fixture.

“La Rochelle are a typical French side so they have got some flair, but a big forward pack as well and are a challenge we are really looking forward to.”

Warriors’s side to face La Rochelle:

Howard, Biggs, Stelling, Fatiaki, Hammond, Lamb, Mulchrone (C), Bower, Sowrey, Rees, Cavubati, O’Shea, Betty, Kirwan, Cox

Replacements: Bregvadze, Milasinovich, Daniels, Sanderson, Annett, Bruzulier, Mills, Humphreys

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