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Admin error leaves Worcester Warriors short-handed for Biarritz Amlin Challenge Cup trip
AN administrative oversight has left Warriors short-handed for tomorrow night's Amlin Challenge Cup clash with Biarritz (7.45pm GMT).
Tongan back-rower Semisi Taulava was initially named in the Worcester squad for the trip to France and he was poised to make his first appearance after more than two months out with a knee injury.
However, it then transpired that, following his injury, the 30-year-old had been deregistered from European competition to allow Warriors to draft Richard de Carpentier into their Amlin Cup squad.
Taulava can therefore not play in Europe now and Dean Ryan has been forced to select second row Chris Jones at number eight and cannot even name a back-rower on the bench due to injury and registration problems.
There are now three props among the replacements with loosehead Paul Andrew having been brought in to replace Sam Betty, who moves to the number seven jersey to cover for Taulava’s exit.
After Biarritz snatched a last-gasp win at Sixways in the two sides’ first Pool One meeting last Thursday, Warriors’ qualification chances for the knock-out stages are now hanging by a thread.
To keep their slim hopes alive, Worcester must win in Biarritz tonight and then finish the pool strongly when they travel to Sale and host Oyonnax in mid-January.
Meanwhile, Josh Drauniniu returns to action after missing the last seven weeks, while Jeremy Becasseau gets his first start since November's victory over Cardiff Blues.
Academy youngsters Ben Howard and Max Stelling come into the backline, as does Fijian international centre Ravai Fatiaki.
John Andress, Dean Schofield, Mike Williams and Ignacio Mieres are all named in the starting line-up as director of rugby Ryan makes 11 changes to the side that hosted their French rivals last Thursday.
Ryan said: "I want to provide some opportunities for players to push for selection. Because we have quite a small squad and some guys are under pressure to play every week, this is a chance to give them a rest.
“People have an opportunity to put their hands up for a Premiership place. We are starting to see the group evolve and after Christmas our selection will be a bit more consistent. This is a big window for some people to join that group.
"We have to keep working hard. We have struggled in the last ten minutes of games and we've spoken a lot about it.
"We've looked at ways of trying to control it in those periods but, until we break that, it will always be up for discussion.”
Warriors: Howard; Drauniniu, Stelling, Fatiaki, Hammond; Mieres, Su'a; Becasseau, Shervington, Andress, Schofield, Williams, De Carpentier, Betty, Jones.
Replacements: Seymour, Porter, O'Donnell, Percival, Andrew, Hodgson, Warwick, Stephenson.
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