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Jon Clarke wings in for Worcester Warriors' Aviva Premiership trip to London Wasps
JON Clarke will wing in as Worcester Warriors’ only change to the side that thrashed London Irish last time out when they face Wasps at Adams Park on Sunday (3pm).
The former Northampton Saints man made his name in the centres, but will be deployed on the wing after impressing as an early replacement for Nikki Walker in the Exiles victory.
With giant back-rower Semisi Taulava also side-lined by injury, Matt Kvesic continues at number eight, while head coach Richard Hill makes three changes on the bench with key players returning to full fitness.
Former England scrum-half Paul Hodgson could make his first appearance of the season after a summer move from London Irish, while Fiji international Ravai Fatiaki, who was this week named in the touring party for his country next month alongside team-mate Josh Matavesi, is also among the replacements.
Back row Blair Cowan is also set for a first taste of league rugby this season as the former Cornish Pirates replaces Taulava on the bench.
Hill has called for his team to play with confidence and is keen for a strong start at Adams Park. "We've done exceptionally well to score four tries at Northampton and against London Irish, but Wasps will pose a different threat away from home so we must not get too carried away," he said.
"We need to keep our feet on the ground. We've been working exceptionally hard and have prepared meticulously to attack and defend against Wasps. The players are hungry and ready to take Wasps on.
"If we had to criticise ourselves this season, it would be our inability to start strongly. Most of the games we've played we haven't started well," he added.
"We are finishing strongly and scoring more points than the vast majority of teams in the league, but in the first quarter we are not so strong. So away from home in particular, we will concentrate on starting well.
"The players have got to believe we can go down there and get a win. It will be tough, Wasps are a good side. But the confidence is sky high so there's no reason we can't put in a good performance."
Wasps director of rugby Dai Young added: “Well what we want is a far more entertaining game than the dour 6-0 loss we had last year and I think both sides will be looking to play.
“Worcester have traditionally got a very strong set-piece and kicking game and they look like they’ve added some good expansion to that so I think they’ll come down with lots of confidence.”
Warriors: Pennell; Clarke, Grove, Matavesi, Lemi; Goode, Arr; Mullan, Lutui, Andress, Percival, Schofield, Chris Jones, Betty, Kvesic. Replacements: Hayes, Ceri Jones, Currie, Gillies, Cowan, Hodgson, Carlisle, Fatiaki.