JOHN Brain has warned his side that withstanding the opening Kingsholm blast will be key to victory against Gloucester.

The Sixways director of rugby, who spent most of his playing days at the Cherry and Whites, believes the first 20 minutes will be vital if Worcester are to come away with a surprise Premiership win on Saturday.

The Warriors were without a game last weekend, because of their Powergen Cup exit, and haven't played top level rugby since the New Year's Day success over London Irish. And Brain, wary of the Shed's famous support, knows the importance of a solid start to quieten the crowd.

"It's going to be a crucial period for us," said Brain. "We haven't played for a while and certainly, it's a period where they look to get on top.

"We've got to ensure we get some intensity into our game from the start."


The match will be a special one for Brain and Keast, both of whom spent time at Kingsholm as coaches. However, for the former Gloucester lock, it will be the first return to his old stamping ground since his Sixways move in 2001.

"I might even get quite emotional," quipped Brain.

"You've got to work inside the club to understand that it's quite a special atmosphere. It's a rugby hotbed, the whole city lives and breathes the game.

"It would mean a lot to me if we were able to go and win there. Saying that, though, we are going to have to play at the very top of our game to get anything out of the match.

"They've got a lot of quality and if they get their game going, they can do a lot of damage."

Worcester were more hopeful yesterday that Tim Collier would continue his 100 per cent Premiership starting record this season. The lock, who tore a pectoral muscle earlier this month, has been improving this week and Brain was "more positive" that the former London Welsh man would make the game.

Along with Brain and Keast, Tony Windo, Thinus Delport, Daren O'Leary, Lee Fortey and Chris Hall will all be facing their former club.

Worcester: Delport; Pieters, Rasmussen, Lombard, O'Leary; Brown, Powell; Windo, Van Niekerk, Horsman, Collier, Gillies, Hickey, Sanderson, MacLeod-Henderson. Replacements: Fortey, Hall, Murphy, Mason, Cole, Hayes, Hinshelwood.