Worcester preview 2012/13
Warriors look to progress
By Tony Curtis - Follow me on Twitter: @SkysportsTC. Last Updated: 27/08/12 11:05am
Worcester achieved their objective last season by retaining their place in the top-flight following their promotion from the RFU Championship.
The task now for Richard Hill and his men is to kick-on and establish the Warriors as Premiership contenders - rather than a side content to be scrapping it out at the bottom.
The loss of try-scoring talents Miles Benjamin and Marcel Garvey will not help the club's cause, while the decision to release Kai Horstmann came as a surprise to many.
Tom Arscott, Bruce Douglas, Alex Crockett, Oliver Tomaszczyk, Adam Balding and Mike Penn are among those that have also left Sixways.
Hill, though, has recruited well with Nikki Walker more than capable of filling the void on the wing, Semisi Taulava is a talented No.8 and Jon Clarke is a more than able replacement for Dale Rasmussen.
Old-school lock Dean Schofield will give the Worcester pack a physical edge, while Paul Hodgson, David Lemi - both well-known to Hill from their days at Bristol - Josh Matavesi, Rob O'Donnell and John Andress will add valuable competition for places.
They will team up with the existing talent of Matt Kvesic, Jake Abbott, Chris Pennell, James Percival and Matt Mullan - all of whom will be pushing hard for international recognition over the coming months.
Hill has also brought in Nigel Redman, Phil Vickery and Mathieu Rourre to his back-room staff as he looks to make his side more competitive - with Phil Davies having moved to Cardiff Blues.
Director of rugby: Richard Hill
Captain: Dean Schofield
Sky Bet odds: 100/1
Last season: 10th
In: Paul Hodgson (London Irish), Nikki Walker (Ospreys), Jon Clarke (Northampton), Dean Schofield (Toulon), Josh Matavesi (Racing Metro), Semisi Taulava (Rotherham), Rob O'Donnell (Rotherham), John Andress (Exeter), David Lemi (Glasgow)
Out: Miles Benjamin (Leicester), Marcel Garvey (Castres), Kai Horstmann (Exeter), Tom Arscott (London Welsh), Bruce Douglas (Bristol), Alex Crockett (Newcastle), Oliver Tomaszczyk (Newcastle), Adam Balding (Newcastle), Mike Penn (Edinburgh), Ben Gulliver (Bedford), Dale Rasmussen (released), Sione Tu'ipulotu (Stourbridge), Chris Fortey (retired), Charlie Hayter (Moseley)
Key man - Dean Schofield: The former Sale and Toulon man has been handed the captaincy at Sixways for good reason - and expect others to follow him as he leads from the front.