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Worcester Warriors' versatile back impressing boss
INJURIES may well have forced his hand to some extent but Richard Hill has been impressed by fly-half Joe Carlisle’s performances at inside-centre.
With the likes of Jon Clarke and Ravai Fatiaki on the treatment table and not having featured so far this term, head coach Hill has switched between Josh Matavesi and Carlisle in the 12 jersey.
The duo bring different skills to the role and Carlisle is clearly a more natural 10 yet he has done an admirable job one place further down the back-line.
Some will still say question marks remain over Carlisle’s defensive fortitude but it has certainly improved over recent seasons.
The academy-produced stand-off will never be a heavy-hitter in midfield but his slick handling skills and range of passing have found favour with Hill, who takes his team to Northampton Saints in the Aviva Premiership today (3pm).
He said: “I do like Carlisle at centre as it gives us an option of speeding the game up, another passing option and, of course, a left-foot kicking option as well as the right of Andy Goode but if we had another fit centre, Joe wouldn’t play there.
“It’s an option to play Joe in the centre with Andy at fly-half but we have only been seeing that because we lack centres.
“Fatiaki is injured and so is Clarke, our new signing, and both of those would be in the squad of 23 so it means either Chris Pennell or Joe playing centre.”
Hill has also been without regular back-rowers, such as Neil Best, Jake Abbott and Blair Cowan, which has seen lock Chris Jones filling in on the blindside flank and the former Sale and England player has also impressed the Warriors boss. He added: “I’m pleased we’ve got a big pack.
“We have three back rows injured, so Chris is filling in and he’s doing a really good job at six.
“Normally, he wouldn’t be playing there but Neil, Jake and Blair are all on the physio bench at the moment.
“Chris is doing a really good job and it gives us a bit more size in that position. Our forwards will look forward to that challenge today.
“Semisi (Taulava) hasn’t seem fazed by the Premiership. He’s very useful when the opposition kick the ball back to you because he carries it forward very strongly.”