Hill ready to field strongest cup team

Head Coach Richard Hill has revealed he plans to field “the strongest team we can” in the British & Irish Cup shootout with holders Cornish Pirates at Sixways Stadium on Saturday (kick-off 3pm).

Worcester and Pirates will battle out a winner-takes-all clash in the Pool A knowing victory for either team will guarantee them a home quarter-final just seven days later.

Hill admits he is delighted to be coming up against the Pirates just prior to the start of the RFU Championship play-offs in March.

And the Sixways chief plans to field a power-packed side as he confirmed Adam Balding will come in for the injured Kai Horstmann and Chris Pennell will captain the team for the very first time this season.

“We will put out virtually the strongest team we can out against Pirates,” said Hill. “Our senior players had a week off last week and they will need a good game going into the play-offs.

“We will field a strong team because we need the match practice; a win gives us a home quarter-final the following week and, most importantly, because it is against the Cornish Pirates.

“We have failed to establish dominance against them in the two fixtures we have had so far and we really need to work them out.

“I’m very pleased we are playing them again because we need to make sure we know how to break them down and how to defend against them when they attack.

“They are the current cup holders so they will be keen to retain the trophy. But it still hurts that they beat us here earlier in the season and we need to find some extra daylight between the teams.”

Hill admits promotion remains the number priority at Sixways this season and revealed how the British & Irish Cup game with Pirates had been slotted into the plans that have been put in place for the play-off bid.

“Our planning has been meticulous for this period and these next two weeks we start again with a mini pre-season,” he said.

“We came in on Monday and set the scene because there are 13 weeks now hopefully until the final. We have done fitness and strength tests to see where we are and this game will be deemed almost as a pre-season game – although it is much more important than that.

“We have got to get a number of things right, much as you do in pre-season, to make sure you are right for this new part of the season and these play-off games. We must get our defence right, and we have done a lot of work and analysis on that.

“Next week we then are going away on a short training camp, again much as you do in pre-season, to get all the players together to get everyone really focussed and spot on.

“This has all been planned out and our preparation is vital. We need one tough game before we go into the game with Bristol on March 13 and that will be against Pirates.”

Tickets for the British & Irish Cup clash at Sixways remain on sale from the Warriors Box Office by calling 01905 454183 or by clicking on Tickets on warriors.co.uk

Fans can support club and country this Saturday with Warriors on the stadium pitch followed by live coverage of England versus France being screened in selected club bars (kick-off 5pm).