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Hill backs Taulava to seize a starring role
THE man brought in to replace fans’ favourite Kai Horstmann at Sixways will take little time to win over the Warriors supporters, according to head coach Richard Hill.
Large sections of the Worcester faithful were aghast at the decision not to offer long-serving Horstmann a new deal and the number eight subsequently joined Exeter Chiefs.
However, Hill felt the former England Saxons back-rower, while undoubtedly a talented footballer, did not possess enough ball-carrying power to get Warriors on the front foot.
The Worcester boss admitted he has taken something of a gamble with Horst-mann’s replacement, but there’s no doubting 6ft 5ins, 20-stone Semisi Taulava will make an impact, despite never having played in the Premiership.
Hill said: “Last year we had willing ball-carriers, but you just need a bit of extra power in there – (Thomas) Waldrom does it very well at Leicester, as does Francois Louw for Bath. You need someone in that back row that’s really going to attract two or three people and will be difficult to stop.
“Semisi was one of the key signings for us, to give us a real ball-carrying number eight. Yes, he was a bit of a gamble when we signed him, but we looked at the size and power of the man and what he did for Rotherham.
“It’s another matter doing that in the Premiership, but I’ve seen him play against Cardiff, the Scarlets and Rotherham in pre-season and he did exactly what we saw him doing in the Champion-ship, just against better opposition.”
Meanwhile, Hill feels new Bath boss Gary Gold’s switch to a kicking-orientated style of play will only be accepted by the Rec supporters if it heralds instant results. War-riors host Bath today in the opening game of the Premier-ship campaign (3pm).
Hill explained: “At the moment, the Bath players are doing exactly as their new coaching staff ask and playing to a certain strategy.
“That will be totally alien to the way Bath will want to play, so we’ll have to see how that unfolds. If they pick up wins playing like that, then the crowd will be full-on and the players will go with them.
“If they don’t win in the first few matches, the crowd will ask questions as they’re not used to seeing that sort of kicking game and the players will also question what’s going on.
“Over the years, the Bath public have always wanted to be entertained by sparkling tries but, over recent seasons, they have complained the club has not been winning trophies so you can see what the coaching staff have done.
“It’s a risk but, as a coach, you have to say, ‘This is what we’re doing’ and then go 100 per cent down that road.”