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Warriors half-backs battle it out for Irish nod
DEAN Ryan admits his Worcester Warriors half-backs continue to give him a selection headache.
Replacements Paul Warwick and Paul Hodgson significantly improved on starting duo Ignacio Mieres and Jeremy Su’a in the weekend’s 26-8 Aviva Premiership home loss to leaders Saracens.
However, the Sixways director of rugby admits each of the four players bring different strengths to the side, which hands him a tough decision when picking the starting XV ahead of Saturday’s crunch clash at fellow strugglers London Irish (3pm).
Ryan, whose side are 10 points adrift at the bottom after 11 straight league defeats, said: “Jeremy got caught a little bit, but when there’s that much pressure on the ball and you are coming from the Southern Hemisphere it is something that’s different in the Premiership.
“He’s got a length of pass that Paul (Hodgson) doesn’t have, though, and that creates an extra man, so those are the selection dilemmas we face — it’s not a straight head-to-head.
“We’ve had a goal-kicking issue all year and speed-of-ball has been a problem too, but games are different in the first 20 minutes compared to the last. Paul Warwick came on and looked really sharp.
“They (Hodgson and Warwick) are pushing for places and asking questions of me, which gives us a nice selection headache.
“We are making changes every week now and have people coming in who are contributing, which is a huge credit to the group and to how they have responded to being challenged six or seven weeks ago.
“They are now understanding what being a top side is about and, against Sarries, it was the first time we had front-row seats for that and we did a good job.”
But the injury list continues to cause Ryan problems with influential skipper Jonathan Thomas missing the Sarries game with concussion and Ed Shervington (dead leg) failing a late fitness test for the second week running.
Ryan added: “Andy Symons has a little bit of a collar bone issue, so it wasn’t worth risking him for the second-half, but we are pretty light on centres now.
“He looked sharp though, cut some nice lines, got into some space and got his hands free, so we are building some options now.
“Hopefully, Jonny (Arr) might be back on the scene this weekend, as well as a couple of the centres. We’re not in a great place injury-wise, but we never expected to be.
“We have such light resources that when you compete like we have done against the best sides in the league, people get hurt and that is what this club has to look at — the development pathway that is churning people up behind the scenes.
“We’ve got serious injury problems, but we’ve never dwelt on it or doubted anyone.
“We just throw the next guy in and they have conducted themselves fantastically.”