Loosehead prop Callum Black is set to make his 100th appearance for Warriors and lock George Merrick his first in Saturday’s opening match of the 2020/21 Gallagher Premiership season against London Irish at Sixways (kick-off 3.00pm).
Black has been named among the replacements and will become the 27th Warriors player to reach a century of appearances if, as expected, he gets on.
It will be third time lucky for Black in his attempt to join the 100 Club having twice named in the squad for the final match of last season, away at Sale Sharks. That match was first postponed and then cancelled because of a COVID-19 outbreak in Sale’s squad.
Merrick has also been named among the replacements having joined Warriors during the short break between seasons from Top 14 club Clermont Auvergne. Merrick returns to the Gallagher Premiership after a season’s absence having previously played for Harlequins.
Club Captain Ted Hill will lead Warriors having been released from England’s squad for the Autumn Nations Cup match against Ireland at Twickenham.
Team Captain Matt Moulds is again sidelined by a foot injury which forced him to miss the latter part of last season.
There are first Premiership starts for centre Oli Morris and back-row forward Joe Batley, who impressed in last Friday’s victory over Northampton Saints in a pre-season friendly at Franklin’s Gardens.
Morris joined the Three Pears Warriors Academy from Saracens last year and scored a try on his debut in the European Challenge Cup victory over Enisei-STM in Russia. He will form a new centre pairing with Francois Venter against Irish and wear the number 13 shirt with Ollie Lawrence on international duty with England.
Batley made his Warriors debut as a replacement against Saracens in September having joined Warriors from Bristol Bears during the summer.
Saturday’s match will be preceded by a minute’s silence for Cecil Duckworth CBE, Warriors President, who passed away last weekend aged 83. Warriors players will also wear black armbands as a mark of respect.
Warriors | 15 Melani Nanai, 14 Tom Howe, 13 Oli Morris, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Nick David, 10 Billy Searle, 9 Francois Hougaard, 1 Ethan Waller, 2 Niall Annett, 3 Nick Schonert, 4 Anton Bresler, 5 Andrew Kitchener, 6 Joe Batley, 7 Ted Hill (C), 8 Marco Mama.
Replacements | 16 Beck Cutting, 17 Callum Black, 18 Richard Palframan, 19 George Merrick, 20 Matt Kvesic, 21 Gareth Simpson, 22 Jamie Shillcock, 23 Ashley Beck.
Unavailable | Matt Cox, Noah Heward, Lewis Holsey, Perry Humphreys, Graham Kitchener, Sam Lewis, Caleb Montgomery, Matt Moulds, GJ van Velze, Matti Williams. Cornell du Preez, Ollie Lawrence, Duncan Weir (international duty).
London Irish | 15 Tom Homer, 14 Ben Loader, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Billy Meakes, 11 Ollie Hassell-Collins, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Ben Meehan, 1 Harry Elrington, 2 Motu Matu’u, 3 Sekope Kepu, 4 George Nott, 5 Andrei Mahu, 6 Ben Donnell, 7 Seán O’Brien, 8 Matt Rogerson (C).
Replacements | 16 Agustin Creevy, 17 Allan Dell, 18 Ollie Hoskins, 19 Chunya Munga, 20 Blair Cowan, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Theo Brophy Clews, 23 Tom Parton.