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Line-out woe forces Hill to issue warning to forwards
RICHARD Hill will be watching Warriors’ line-out performance like a hawk in tonight’s Aviva Premiership clash with London Irish (8pm).
The calling and throwing on Worcester’s ball in the 37-31 defeat at Northampton last time out was haphazard to say the least and the Sixways head coach has insisted he will take early action if he sees necessary.
The communication breakdown became so bad at Franklin’s Gardens that at one attacking line-out five metres from the hosts’ line Worcester didn’t even jump to contest their own ball and a huge scoring chance was wasted.
If that kind of ineptitude continues, it could undermine Warriors’ entitre season and, given the amount of training field hours that go into line-out work, is simply inexcusable.
Hill has urged his forwards to sharpen up their line-out play — starting tonight — and will soon turn to replacement Craig Gillies, who shored things up when he joined the fray at Saints, if the problems arise again.
“We need to be quicker with our line-outs, for our calls to be clearer and to get the ball in and away quicker — it’s down to tempo,” Hill explained.
“We’re taking too long to set up and make the call, therefore the opposition are forming up against us in their defensive line, so we are finding it hard to get the ball because we are being competed against heavily.
“By speeding the whole process up, which is something we’ve been working on this week, we should see a better result.
“Against Saints, there wasn’t clarity about what we should be doing – one or two different calls coming in – and Aleki Lutui was put in a very difficult situation.
“We’ve seen in training this week that when there is clarity of the call and everyone buys into it, then Aleki will have no problem at all.”
Hill added: “Craig was very close to a starting place — he’s on top form and his attitude is superb — but I haven’t put him down to start this week. We have a lot of competition at lock and I’ve had a good chat with Craig — he is exceptionally close.
“I’ll be seeing how our line-out functions against Irish and I won’t be waiting 40 minutes — they know what they have to do and it has to be significantly improved.
“I am confident that the group I’ll put in will improve the line-out but, if for some reason that doesn’t happen, Craig will be introduced earlier rather than later.”