Bizkaia Gernika RT v Worcester - Amlin Challenge Cup match preview
Last Updated: 13/10/12 2:39pm
Worcester Warriors travel to the Basque Country to take on Spanish champions Bizkaia Gernika RT in their Amlin Challenge Cup opener on Saturday.
Bizkaia are making their European debut this season and are in good form after winning their first five Spanish league games.
In contrast Worcester, runners up in this competition five years ago, have won once in six Aviva Premiership outings.
But the English side boast a wealth of players with international and European experience, including Neil Best and Ceri Jones who have both won the Challenge Cup during their careers.
Wing Andy Short returns from injury and England international scrum-half Paul Hodgson makes his first start for the Worcester among 10 changes to the starting XV on duty for the 10-6 defeat to Wasps last time out.
Ben Howard, Short, Joe Carlisle and Hodgson come into the back division, while Blair Cowan, Best, Craig Gillies, James Currie, Ollie Hayes and Jones are included in the pack.
Bizkaia Gernika RT: 15 Aitzol Martitegi, 14 Toto Mazzochi, 13 Ale Torres Suar, 12 Wins Wilson, 11 Santi Salas, 10 Deccie Cusack, 9 Igor Mirones, 8 Afa Amosa, 7 David Hernandez, 6 Jon Magunazelaia, 5 Goyo Zabaloy, 4 Oscar Astarloa, 3 Fer Iraizoz, 2 Unai Lasa, 1 Mike Dias
Replacements: 16 Urru Urrutia, 17 Nico Bilbao, 18 Pingui Monje, 19 Tato Duran, 20 Lopa Lopategi, 21 Aitor Etxebarria, 22 Iñi Olaeta, 23 Parrish Garcia Parrado
Worcester: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Ben Howard, 13 Jon Clarke, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 Andy Short, 10 Joe Carlisle, 9 Paul Hodgson, 8 Blair Cowan, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Neil Best, 5 Craig Gillies, 4 Chris Jones, 3 James Currie, 2 Ollie Hayes, 1 Ceri Jones
Replacements: 16 Ed Shervington, 17 George Porter, 18 Rob O'Donnell, 19 Dean Schofield, 20 Jake Abbott, 21 Ollie Frost, 22 Max Stelling, 23 Alex Grove
What they said...
Worcester head coach Richard Hill
"We have had some intelligence from Mark Hewitt (Warriors academy manager) from his time in Spain, and also a friend of mine in France has been to watch them a number of times and reported back.
"We will give them a huge amount of respect and we have picked a strong team with players who have been on the fringes during the first six league games.
"The team we send to Spain is highly-motivated and will perform.
"We want to do well in this competition, and that starts from day one. We start away in Spain and then play Rovigo at home. We need to win those games and set ourselves up for the Perpignan double header in December."