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Worcester sign four loan players to get the show back on road

By Kim Ekin
(Photo by Ryan Hiscott/Getty Images)

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Fresh from having their Gallagher Premiership match at Gloucester last Friday cancelled due to a shortage of props, Worcester have brought in four players on loan from Championship club Hartpury to enable Wednesday’s Premiership Rugby Cup match against Bath at The Rec to go ahead.

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Centre Robbie Smith, tighthead prop Mitch Walsh, wing Matt McNab and back Alex Forrester have all been brought in to strengthen a squad that is still severely depleted by Covid-19 cases, a respiratory virus and injuries.

Smith and McNab will both start with Walsh and Forrester named among the replacements as Worcester go in search of a bonus-point win that would secure a place in the semi-finals. McNab has previously appeared for Worcester Cavaliers in the Premiership Rugby Shield competition.

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Chris Ashton | Rugby Roots
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Chris Ashton | Rugby Roots

Fly-half Billy Searle will captain the side which includes England U20s hooker Finn Theobald-Thomas, who will make his first start. Theobald-Thomas made his senior debut as a replacement against Bristol Bears in this competition in November but he will play at openside flanker at Bath, a position he played in for Warriors U18s two years ago.

Loosehead prop Lewis Holsey will also make his first start after four appearances off the bench and there are potential debuts for hooker Joe Richardson and locks Cheick Kone and Harvey Cuckson. Richardson and Kone were both unused replacements at Exeter Chiefs ten days ago while Cuckson is included in the senior squad for the first time.

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Cuckson, a student at Ellesmere College in Shropshire, has been included in the England U18 squad for the forthcoming Six Nations Festival in France and impressed playing for Warriors in this season’s Premiership Rugby U18 Academy League. Trialist Lekima Ravuvu, who made his debut at Exeter, is set for a second appearance, this time as a replacement.

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Meanwhile, Premiership Rugby has confirmed that it has asked Sport Resolutions UK to form an independent panel to adjudicate on last Friday’s cancelled match. The circumstances under which Worcester were unable to field the required six front row players will be determined by the independent panel. The match will not be replayed.

A Premiership Rugby spokesperson said: “In accordance with the Premiership regulations we are investigating this matter. We have been in contact with Worcester and Gloucester, and have also asked Sports Resolutions UK to form an independent panel.

“We don’t have a timescale to resolve this matter, but we will update in due course once the date of the hearing has been fixed. Following the conclusion of the panel hearing, we will publish the initial verdict followed by the full written judgment.”

WORCESTER (vs Bath, Wednesday)
15. Perry Humphreys; 14. Tom Howe, 13. Robbie Smith, 12. Seb Atkinson, 11. Matt McNab; 10. Billy Searle (capt), 9 Ollie Wynn; 1. Lewis Holsey, 2. Beck Cutting, 3. Jack Owlett, 4. James Scott, 5. Justin Clegg, 6. Jack Forsythe, 7. Finn Thomas, 8. Caleb Montgomery. Reps: 16. Joe Richardson, 17. Kai Owen, 18. Mitch Walsh, 19. Cheick Kone, 20. Harvey Cuckson, 21. Lekima Ravuvu, 22. Will Chudley, 23. Alex Forrester.

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