BACKS coach Sam Vesty insists Worcester Warriors’ forwards have been working tirelessly to “nail” their line-out ahead of Sunday’s trip to Harlequins in the Anglo-Welsh Cup (3pm).

Vesty was frustrated to see his side’s set-piece often falter when they closed in on the try-line in Worcester’s 24-21 cup defeat against Sale Sharks last Friday.

Warriors have been bolstered by the short-term signing of experienced hooker Kurt Haupt who could replace Beck Cutting for the clash at the Stoop.

But Vesty has fiercely defended the 19-year-old who struggled to find his target at the line-out at times against Sharks.

“Beck is a very good thrower,” Vesty said.

“But there were timing issues around some lifts which meant the line-out didn’t go very well.

“We are certainly not going to put it on one lad’s shoulders.

“I always think it is harsh when everyone seems to target the hooker when there are other possibilities as to why the ball went awry. All the best sides have a great set-piece and it’s something you have got to work hard at to get it nailed.

“We have certainly been working hard at that area this week.”

However, Vesty said he was delighted to have Haupt on board having been left depleted with Joe Taufete’e on international duty with USA this month and Matti Williams (hand) and Niall Annett (knee) injured.

The 28-year-old has previously played for Blue Bulls and South Western District Eagles in South Africa before representing Southern Kings in this year’s Super Rugby campaign.

“Kurt is a big lad who likes to get stuck in and he’s had a very good first few days with us,” Vesty said. “With a couple of injuries knocking around you need at least three players to cover all your games so we needed another number in there.

“He has done well so far and I am looking forward to seeing Kurt this weekend.”

Warriors named 12 first-team players and three academy aces in the starting line-up to face Sale and Vesty said he would select a similar side.

Fly-half Tom Heathcote is expected to miss the game with a head injury, meaning Sam Olver could make his first competitive start for the club.

Bryce Heem and Nick Schonert featured against Sale but Vesty may be tempted to rest the duo ahead of a “crucial” period of Aviva Premiership games.

If they are not selected, full-back Ben Howard, who is understood to be back in training after overcoming an ankle problem, and fit-again tighthead prop Simon Kerrod could be presented with a chance to stake their claim.

“There will be a few changes but it will be largely a similar squad,” Vesty added.

“It is about giving some guys opportunities to go out there, put their hand up and say ‘This is what I can do’.

“But there will be senior guys that need a bit more game-time going into a crucial period for us.”