RICHARD Hill is desperate to retain the services of veteran hooker Aleki Lutui, despite Warriors’ capture of Argentinean international number two Agustin Creevy.
The 34-year-old Tongan front row who has racked up 179 appearances for Worcester since joining the club from Exeter Chiefs in 2006, is out of contract this summer, but Hill is eager to extend his stay.
Alongside Creevy, who is set to miss the early part of next season playing for his country in the Rugby Championship, fellow hooker Ed Shervington has recently signed a new contract, while youngster Ollie Hayes is also on the books at Sixways However, Worcester head coach Hill feels Lutui adds so much to the team he wants to keep hold of him regardless of his advancing years.
He said: “We are starting to talk to Aleki and we would like to keep him here, I think he is absolutely tremendous.
“Everyone speaks exceptionally highly of him and he has huge respect. He plays like a warrior and it is fantastic to watch someone like that with the effort he puts in.
“Particularly with Agustin away for the early part of the season, it is absolutely vital for me that Aleki is here and I hope very much we can complete those negotiations.”
Hill has also confirmed that the recruitment of stand-offs Ignacio Mieres and Paul Warwick will spell the end at Warriors for Andy Goode and Joe Carlisle.
He added: “We are going to make a few changes this year, so both Andy and Joe will be leaving the club at the end of this season.
“Joe has been here longer, but they have both been very good servants to the club. In the three years I’ve been here, Andy has put his heart and soul into it. I just feel it’s time for a change.”
Hill also revealed several of his fringe players have been sent out on loan to the Championship to gain more experience.
He added: “Ollie Frost and James Currie have gone out on loan to Leeds and we’re going to try and get Ollie Hayes a loan club too.
“These lads need to play. It’s another strategy we’re trying to use – one Leicester have done very successfully with the likes of Dan Cole and Tom Youngs having been on loan in the Championship in the past.”
Meanwhile, Ben Howard will switch from wing to full-back when England Under 20s travel to Ireland for their second Six Nations fixture on Friday night.
The Warriors youngster starred for England as they got their Six Nations title defence off to the perfect start with a 15-6 win against Scotland in Plymouth last weekend.