FRANCOIS Hougaard and Ryan Mills will give Worcester Warriors “strong direction” as a half-back pairing, according to head coach Carl Hogg.

Talismanic scrum-half Hougaard is due to arrive at Sixways this week and could be in contention to face Saracens on Friday night (7.45pm).

This will be another big boost for Aviva Premiership's bottom club who welcomed back fly-half Mills for their 24-19 defeat at Gloucester last Friday.

Mills made a quicker than expected recovery from hip and shoulder problems to start in the number 10 shirt against his former club.

And Hogg felt it was a risk that paid off as the 25-year-old helped Warriors come from 24-6 down to snatch a losing bonus point.

“Ryan is a good leader,” said Hogg who was without stand-off Tom Heathcote due to concussion.

“He is very smart and has got good rugby intellect. He gives us a vocal edge and some real leadership from 10.

“That was his first game back, so he will just get better and better. 

“It was (a bit of a risk), but someone like Ryan has been around for years and years and has obviously had some injury issues in the past.

“But he is a really quality player, so it is great to have him back on board.

“We are looking to getting Francois back in the country as well, so that gives us some strong direction at nine and 10.”

Hougaard was not expected back at Warriors until early October when the Rugby Championship finished.

But the number nine, who has established himself as a fans’ favourite at the club, was released by South Africa following their 57-0 thrashing at the hands of New Zealand.

Hogg is looking forward to being reunited with Hougaard, but he does not want his arrival to overshadow the work done by the rest of his squad.

“It is (a boost), but Peter Stringer played very well (against Gloucester) and Jono Kitto came on and contributed,” Hogg said.

“So the team is not about one or two individuals, it is about a group.

“We came to Gloucester and put ourselves behind the eight ball with a slow start.

“But we showed huge amount of spirit to get ourselves back in the contest.”