RYAN Lamb has been handed the number 10 jersey as Dean Ryan desperately looks to inject some life into Warriors’ disaster of a season.
The mercurial play-maker is in line for his full Worcester debut in tomorrow’s Aviva Premiership trip to Harlequins (3pm).
Time is fast running out for the Sixways side who have lost all 15 of their league games so far this term, while tomorrow’s match also marks a distressing anniversary for the club as it is a year to the day since they last won an Aviva Premiership game.
The club’s supporters have endured a miserable 12 months since that 29-23 victory over Wasps at Sixways on Friday, March 1, 2013, and the terrible run of form has left Warriors’ top-flight status hanging by a thread as they are currently 12 points adrift of second-from-bottom Newcastle Falcons.
However, Worcester boss Ryan rightly refuses to throw in the towel and has dropped fly-=half Paul Warwick in favour of new recruit Lamb as one of four changes in the wake of the lacklustre home defeat to Sale Sharks last time out.
The former Gloucester, Leicester and Northampton fly-half came on as a half-time replacement in the 24-12 home loss to Sale and has been handed the number 10 shirt for tomorrow’s encounter.
However, there is no place in the 23-man squad for new recruit Jerome Schuster, signed from Leicester this week as an injury dispensation for fellow Frenchman Jeremy Becasseau, as director of rugby Dean Ryan has recalled Rob O’Donnell at tighthead with Euan Murray on the bench.
Alongside the promotion of Lamb and O’Donnell to the first XV, skipper Jonathan Thomas returns at number eight after serving a one-match ban for a red card for punching Northampton Saints’ Sam Dickinson, while Dean Hammond replaces Josh Drauniniu on the right wing.
A much-changed replacement bench features prop Paul Andrew, number eight Semisi Taulava, scrum-half Paul Hodgson and centre Max Stelling.
Ryan said: “We dug ourselves into this hole by performances in the first-half of the season, but I honestly believe we can stay in the Premiership.
“This is still a massive challenge for us. We can still get four points on the board and we can cause problems so we are not giving up any fight.
“Quins are a different side when they haven’t got Chris Robshaw, Mike Brown and Danny Care. But they will still be as dangerous and capable of playing their type of game if we let them.
“We were damaged against Quins at Sixways in the first part of the season and if we sit back they are capable of doing the same again.”
Warriors: Pennell; Hammond, Grove, Fatiaki, Lemi; Lamb, Arr; Fainga'anuku, Creevy, O'Donnell, Percival, Galarza, Williams, Betty, Thomas. Replacements: Shervington, Andrew, Murray, Senatore, Taulava, Hodgson, Warwick, Stelling.