Boss challenges rookies to perform

Warriors boss Mike Ruddock has called on his young stars to take the ‘last chance’ to impress when they tackle London Irish on Sunday (kick-off 3pm).

Ruddock has made nine changes for the EDF Energy Cup clash and named a youthful side for the trip to the Madejski Stadium.

And the Director of Rugby admits time is running out to impress as he plans to field his strongest team in the coming weeks against Gran Parma before Guinness Premiership action resumes.

“This game is probably the last chance for some of the guys to put their hands up for selection as we will be looking for some continuity when we get to the next round of Guinness Premiership games,” he said.

“We’ve got a lot of players pushing for a place in the first team, but we are keen to get the starting XV settled down and get combinations that should make things more cohesive.

“It is a chance for guys like Joe Carlisle. We have been keen to give him a run since the London Irish game in pre-season. There are areas we wanted him to work on and his has done that. Hopefully we will see Joe step up to the plate.

“It has helped that a number of our younger players have been out on loan to National One clubs to get experience. Together with Guinness A League games, they have had a lot of rugby and are ready for this chance.”

Neither Warriors or London Irish can progress past the group stages and into the semi-finals of the cup competition.

But Ruddock insists the game in Reading is important and has ordered his side to perform.

“From our perspective it’s an important game,” he said. “We got beaten by Sale so we want to get back on track as quickly as possible. It’s important we get a positive result.

“We also need a victory for our fans, we let them down at home against Sale and overall we have. We want to take every opportunity to impress our dedicated supporters.

“We know it is going to be tough, London Irish have got a good set piece and so it is good challenge for Will Bowley and I expect really good things from him.

“If we can secure some ball we can play some rugby. We have an exciting young back line with Dom Feaunati, Miles Benjamin, Joe Carlisle and Chris Pennell coming into the side.”

Warriors have a youthful blend to the team but have also opted for some experience with new signing Greg Rawlinson set to make his full debut for the club.

And Ruddock is confident the New Zealand international will impress now he has settled into life at Sixways Stadium.

He said: “Greg has been fantastic and brought a lot to the group. The first couple of weeks were difficult for him as he tried to get up to speed with the line-outs and different patterns of play. But he feels more settled now and is sleeping at nights now his body is getting over the jet lag.

“We hope for some great things from Greg. We are not expecting too much in terms of this game, but it is another step forward for him as he learns about us and our tactics.”

Ruddock also revealed that fellow new boy Rico Gear, who touches down in Worcester this weekend, will be in contention from as early as next week.

“We will see how Rico settles down,” he added. “We will watch how he shapes up next week in training but he could well be available as early as the Gran Parma home game.”