Pat Sanderson returns to Guinness Premiership action for Warriors for the first time in 10 weeks, weather-permitting tonight, with supporters and his director of rugby relishing seeing him back in the gold-and-blue.
The Worcester captain has made two fleeting cup appearances for the club since England’s disappointing autumn international came to an end, but John Brain believes Sixways supporters will feel the benefit as the 29-year-old works to put those difficult couple of months behind him.
“It’s good to have him back,” Brain says. “He was unlucky to pick up a knock against Albi (last Saturday) but he’s trained well this week and is fit.”
Sanderson reverts to his familiar role at openside flanker for the visit of London Irish, tonight, after appearing across the full width of the back row during his four England appearances.
That shuffle from 6 to 8 reflects both Sanderson’s prominence as his country’s most versatile loose forward and the unsettled nature of England’s line-up.
“As far as we’re concerned, we’d move him around depending on who we were playing and the balance of the back row,” Brain says. “England have a problem at openside. We don’t at this club. We have Tom Harding, who’s been outstanding for the past two months.”
Sanderson’s return to play for a club side that’s rediscovered its winning touch and confidence is a highlight of tonight’s crucial clash, as Warriors start a sequence of three matches in 10 days of the back of four straight league and cup victories.
“To be in a losing camp, it does affect you mentally and physically,” the Sixways director of rugby adds. “He went from here to the England camp, where everything and everybody was under intense scrutiny. It was a pretty claustrophobic environment to be in for a player.
“But it’s good for him to be back here. I think he’s looking forward to putting in some really big performances.”