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Lion sized boost as Worcester name side for what could be final Prem game

By Kim Ekin
Duhan van der Merwe /PA

British and Irish Lions wing Duhan van der Merwe will make his season debut for Worcester Warriors in what could be their final Gallagher Premiership game.

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On Thursday Worcester were cleared to host Newcastle Falcons at Siways on Saturday but they could yet be forced into administration. The Rugby Football Union confirmed Worcester met the 12pm deadline for proving they are able to host their second home match of the season in the face of debts exceeding £25million.

However, there remains a very realistic possibility it will be their last match in the league amid a warning from the RFU that they will be suspended from all competitions on Monday if they are unable to demonstrate a credible plan for lifting Sixways out of crisis.

The giant South African-born strike runner has recovered from the quadriceps injury that ruled him out of the first three Premiership matches of the season and comes straight into the starting XV with Alex Hearle switching to the right flank from the left.

Van der Merwe is one of three changes to the side. Billy Searle returns at fly-half in place of Owen Williams. In the front row Murray McCallum will switch to the loosehead to accommodate and Jay Tyack, who is making his first start of the season at tighthead prop.

Props Kai Owen and Jack Owlett, lock Graham Kitchener and centre Oli Morris, who all started in Wednesday’s pick and mix side for the Premiership Rugby Cup match at Gloucester, which featured a number of coaches and invited players who helped out the stricken club.

WORCESTER WARRIROS: 15 Jamie Shillcock, 14 Alex Hearle, 13 Ollie Lawrence, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Billy Searle, 9 Gareth Simpson, 1 Murray McCallum, 2 Curtis Langdon, 3 Jay Tyack, 4 Joe Batley, 5 Andrew Kitchener, 6 Fergus Lee-Warner, 7 Cameron Neild, 8 Tom Dodd.

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REPLACEMENTS: 16 Hame Faiva, 17 Kai Owen, 18 Jack Owlett, 19 Graham Kitchener, 20 Matt Kvesic, 21 Will Chudley, 22 Oli Morris, 23 Noah Heward.

additional reporting PA

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