Euan Murray handed Warriors start
December 5, 2012
Euan Murray starts for the Warriors for the first time on Thursday © Getty Images
The Worcester Warriors have named a strong side ahead of the first of their two back-to-back clashes with Top 14 side Perpignan in the Amlin Challenge Cup.
Both Worcester and Perpignan have recorded maximum points from their opening two matches of the 2012-13 Challenge Cup thanks to easy wins over Bizkaia Gernika and Rovigo. The Warriors host Perpignan at Sixways on Thursday and then travel to France to play the Top 14 side on December 15. The double-header is likely to shape the outcome of the group with both Perpignan and the Aviva Premiership side gunning for a spot in the knockout stages of the tournament.
And the Warriors have handed Scotland prop Euan Murray his first start ahead of Thursday's match. He packs down at tight-head with John Andress among the replacements. Matt Kvesic and Ed Shervington are also named in the XV and the pair will make their 50th appearances for Worcester against Perpignan in what coach Richard Hill anticipates will be a tough match.
"It is a really exciting game and on the back of two very good league performances we are in a positive frame of mind," Hill said. "We are desperate to get into the quarter-finals and we are top of the group at the moment. But we know we have a really tough task against a powerful French team.
"They have a quick turnaround as they travel over on Wednesday and play Thursday night so we have got to hit them with everything we can in this first game. If we can get a win in this one, it puts us in a strong position for the second game the following week."
Perpignan, who are eighth in the Top 14, have also named a strong line-up which includes some faces familiar to fans of the home nations. Former Gloucester back-rowers Luke Narraway and Alasdair Strokosch both get the nod while Wales fly-half James Hook is named in the half-backs. Elsewhere, Henry Tuilagi starts at No.8 while ex-Wasps fullback Richard Haughton is named among the replacements. Pool 2's other match this weekend sees Rovigo travel to Biszkaia on Saturday.
Elsewhere on Thursday evening, Bordeaux-Begles host Mont-de-Marsan in the all-Top 14 clash. London Irish and Gloucester are in charge of that group - Pool 1 - and they play at the Madejski Stadium on Saturday.
Friday night's solitary fixture is in France with Lyn Jones' London Welsh travelling to Grenoble while Stade Francais play Cavalieri Prato in Pool 5's other game. In Pool 3, Premiership side Wasps are at the summit of the group and play the second-placed team Bayonne on Saturday evening while the Dragons travel to Mogliano earlier in the day.
And in Pool 4, Bath Rugby - who have ten points from a possible ten - host Calvisano on Saturday while Agen tackle Bucuresti in Romania in the other fixture.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
It's time for those running Welsh rugby to stop trying to prevent its players heading to France and to start planning a future without them, writes Martin Williamson
Paul Eddison explains how the French sold English clubs down the river and why their domestic game will go from strength to strength
'Nothing can prepare you for the noise of the Millennium Stadium though, you just can't hear anything." Tom Hamilton talks to Cory Allen
Following a weekend where Wales suffered more heartbreak against Australia and the Aviva Premiership showed its class, the Monday Maul looks back at some of the key talking points