PREPARATIONS for Worcester Warriors’ upcoming Gallagher Premiership tussle with Wasps began last week, according to head coach Rory Duncan.

Warriors’ European Challenge Cup campaign came to an end at the weekend courtesy of a 18-16 loss to Harlequins at Sixways.

But Duncan revealed decisions were made prior to that quarter-final tie that aimed to ensure his players were “fresh and ready” for Saturday’s league clash at Wasps (3pm).

Several of Warriors’ first-team regulars were left out of the squad to face Quins while other players lasted just 40 minutes.

Despite dominating the scrum in the first half front row trio Callum Black, Niall Annett and Gareth Milasinovich made way for Ethan Waller, Joe Taufete’e and Simon Kerrod at half-time.

Lock Michael Fatialofa and centre Ryan Mills were also replaced by Darren Barry and Francois Venter respectively.

“The decision was that we would give those guys 40 minutes and the guys coming off the bench would be given 40 minutes,” Duncan said.

“We have still got a number of Premiership games to play and obviously we are in a big fight there.

“We wanted to give the guys game-time but at the same time we wanted to make sure that they would be fresh and ready for next weekend.

“A couple of players have got bumps and bruises from the Bristol game.

“Conversations took place during the week where we said we would give them 40 minutes just to make sure that those bumps and bruises didn’t turn into any long-term injuries or anything that would keep them out for the Wasps game.”

Tighthead prop Nick Schonert, lock Anton Bresler and back rowers Marco Mama and Ted Hill started in the 27-25 league win at Bristol Bears but were rested against Quins.

Asked whether the quartet would be fit to tackle Wasps, Duncan replied: “I am certainly hopeful that they will be cleared for the next game.”

Warriors are embroiled in a relegation battle as they sit just one place and three points above bottom club Newcastle Falcons.

Wasps are in eighth position, eight points clear of the drop zone but have lost their past four games.

“They are a quality outfit and have the ability to move the ball around,” Duncan said.

“We started our homework on them last week.

“It’s going to be a challenge being away from home but the guys will certainly be up for it.”

Number eight Cornell du Preez could come into the mix for selection after making his much-anticipated return to action.

Du Preez’s 26-minute cameo off the bench against Quins last Saturday was his first appearance since fracturing his larynx in the home defeat to Wasps on September 1.

“His first carry of the ball resulted in quite a big collision and he managed to come through it,” Duncan added.

“It is going to be good to have him back available for selection again.

“To make a couple of big carries against a team that were putting in big hits at the back end of the game was good to see.”