NEW recruit Michael Heaney admits he is relishing the chance to bark orders at his best mate Niall Annett when they reunite at Worcester Warriors.

Scrum-half Heaney and hooker Annett have known each other since the age of nine when they formed a centre-back partnership for their primary school football team.

At that time it was Annett who was shouting instructions at Heaney in a bid to organise his back four.

But 18 years on Heaney, 27, hopes the roles will be reversed as he looks to call the shots for Warriors after making the move from Doncaster Knights this summer.

“We must have been nine or 10 years old when we first got to know each other,” Heaney recalled.

“I went to Carryduff and he went to Cairnshill but the two of us played at centre-back together for a combined Belfast primary school team.

“He was always the one yelling at me to bring the offside line up as I was a bit lazy.

“We didn’t realise that we played football together until we were a couple of years into secondary school and then we became quite good friends from then on.”

Heaney and Annett demonstrated their talents were more suited to rugby than football during their time at Methodist College Belfast.

The pair went on to be part of Ulster’s academy and played together for Belfast Harlequins and through the age groups with Ireland before going their separate ways.

Annett joined Warriors in 2014 and Heaney signed for Doncaster a year later but their paths have crossed once again ahead of the 2018-19 campaign.

“There is a group of about five or six of us from school who have kept in touch and see each other when we can,” Heaney said.

“It is great to meet up with Niall again as we have been good friends for a number of years. Hopefully I will get the chance to play alongside him.

“After telling me to get the offside line up all those years ago it would be a nice turnaround if I can tell him what to do!

“But Niall has established himself pretty well at Worcester and I think he is in their senior players group so he has done very well for himself there.”

Annett was Warriors’ first-choice hooker before suffering two injury-hit seasons as he failed to make a senior appearance last term due to knee ligament damage.

Heaney, meanwhile, has been plying his trade in the English rugby’s second tier with Doncaster but the number nine is confident he will be able to step up to the top flight.

“Hopefully the experience of playing a lot of rugby in the Championship and my time in Pro12 with Ulster will stand me in good stead in the Premiership,” Heaney said.

“Niall has been there for a few years and I have heard nothing but good things about the club from him.

“They have got a good set-up there so I can’t wait to get cracking this summer.”