Bath v Worcester: Teams
At The Rec, Saturday September 15, kick-off 2.15pm
By Tony Curtis. Last Updated: 14/09/07 5:53pm
Bath coach Steve Meehan is confident his side can get off to a winning start against Worcester after a promising pre-season.
Bath won all their four friendly fixtures, beating Richmond, Llanelli, Edinburgh and Leinster and Meehan believes this will stand his side in good stead.
He told the club's official site: "I think they have progressed particularly in the sense that they really take the field with confidence.
"Their individual skill level has helped them really mould as a team, and their set-piece work has evolved from last season as well.
"Certainly, because our pre-season has been a successful one, it has enabled us to be better prepared as a result - we are comfortable with where we are."
Meehan has handed debuts to South African scrum-half Michael Claassens and lock Martin Purdy, while former Northampton forward Daniel Browne is named on the bench.
New Worcester director of rugby Mike Ruddock has insisted there is a "real buzz" among his Warriors ahead of the visit to Bath.
Former Wales chief Ruddock has taken over the reins at Sixways from John Brain and he is impressed with what he has seen in the build up to the season.
He told the club's official site: "It's always going to be difficult at The Rec and a challenge - Bath have impressed in pre-season.
"But we back ourselves, believe in ourselves and will go down there to get a result.
"Pre-season preparations have gone well and the squad's fitness level has improved, there is a real buzz in the camp and hopefully we can perform well enough to get a result.
"In any sport it is all about confidence and rugby is no different, you can't underestimate the importance of a good start and if we can hit the ground running that would be fantastic."
Back row Kai Horstmann will wear the No.8 shirt after being declared fit after having shoulder surgery in the summer.
Ruddock has also named academy products Tom Wood and Chris Pennell in his line-up, while skipper Pat Sanderson and Shane Drahm return after missing the friendly with London Irish.
Bath: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Jack Cuthbert, 13 Tom Cheeseman, 12 Shaun Berne, 11 Matt Banahan, 10 Ryan Davis, 9 Michael Claassens, 1 David Barnes, 2 Pieter Dixon, 3 Aaron Jarvis, 4 Martin Purdy, 5 Peter Short, 6 Andy Beattie, 7 Chris Goodman, 8 Zak Feaunati (c).
Replacements: 16 Rob Hawkins, 17 Laurence Ovens, 18 Rob Fidler, 19 Jonny Faamatuainu, 20 Daniel Browne, 21 Nick Walshe, 22 Andy Higgins.
Worcester: 15 Chris Pennell,14 Thinus Delport, 13 Dale Rasmussen, 12 Gary Trueman, 11 Marcel Garvey, 10 Shane Drahm, 9 Matt Powell, 1 Tony Windo, 2 Chris Fortey, 3 Tevita Taumoepeau, 4 Phil Murphy, 5 Craig Gillies, 6 Tom Wood, 7 Pat Sanderson (c), 8 Kai Horstmann.
Replacement: 16 Darren Morris, 17 Ben Gotting, 18 Will Bowley, 19 Gavin Quinnell, 20 Ryan Powell, 21 James Brown, 22 Mark Tucker.