Worcester Warriors centre Will Butler

TEAMS: Will Butler returns from injury for start of Worcester’s Challenge Cup campaign

Worcester Warriors director of rugby Alan Solomons has welcomed back co-captain Will Butler to his starting line-up for the team’s trip to Pau in the opening round of the Challenge Cup.

Butler is one of 14 changes made by Solomons to the side which lost to Bath in the Premiership last weekend, overcoming an ankle injury that has kept his sidelined for the past three months to renew his midfield partnership with Ashley Beck.

Experienced loosehead Marc Thomas starts in the front row after arriving at Sixways last month following spells with Doncaster Knights and Harlequins.

Joe Batley, who started at lock against Bath, switches to the blindside flank alongside Sam Lewis, who will make his seasonal debut having recovered from a dead leg, and number eight Morgan Monks who will also make his first start having impressed off the bench against Bath.

Former Harlequins lock George Merrick will also make his first start and will be in familiar territory as he spent last season playing for Clermont Auvergne in France’s Top14 competition.

Merrick will form a new second row pairing with Justin Clegg who is another making his seasonal debut along with wings Alex Hearle, Ed Fidow and Chris Pennell.

The replacements include tighthead prop Kieran Verden who is in line to make his debut having been signed from Bath on a short-term loan deal to cover injuries to Nick Schonert, Richard Palframan and Joe Morris.


Pau v Worcester Warriors (Saturday, 8pm kick-off)

Pau: 15 Charly Malie, 14 Eoghan Barrett, 13 Julien Fumat (capt), 12 Florian Nicot, 11 Watisoni Votu, 10 Thibault Debaes, 9 Samuel Marques; 1 Geoffrey Moise, 2 Lucas Rey, 3 Nicolas Corato, 4 Denis Marchois, 5 Daniel Ramsay, 6 Antoine Erbani, 7 Lekima Tagitagivalu, 8 Matthieu Ugena

Replacements: 16 Rayne Barka, 17 Omar Odishvili, 18 Malik Hamadache, 19 Julien Delannoy, 20 Hubert Texier, 21 Clovis Lebail, 22 Mike Harris, 23 Baptiste Couchinave

Worcester Warriors: 15 Chris Pennell (co-capt), 14 Alex Hearle, 13 Ashley Beck, 12 Will Butler (co-capt), 11 Ed Fidow, 10 Jamie Shillcock, 9 Gareth Simpson; 1 Marc Thomas, 2 Beck Cutting, 3 Conor Carey, 4 George Merrick, 5 Justin Clegg, 6 Joe Batley, 7 Sam Lewis, 8 Morgan Monks

Replacements: 16 Isaac Miller, 17 Kai Owen, 18 Kieran Verden, 19 James Scott, 20 Caleb Montgomery, 21 Matti Williams, 22 Jono Kitto, 23 Scott van Breda

Stade Francais v Benetton (Friday, 5.30pm kick-off)

Stade Francais: 15 Kylan Hamdaoui, 14 Sione Tui, 13 Waisea Vuidarvuwalu, 12 Julien Delbouis, 11 Adrien Lapegue, 10 Arthur Coville, 9 William Percillier; 1 Vasil Kakovin, 2 Lucas Da Silva, 3 Luke Tagi, 4 Gerbrandt Grobler, 5 Pierre-Henri Azagoh, 6 Charlie Rorke, 7 Ryan Chapuis (capt), 8 Charlie Francoz

Replacements: 16 Laurent Panis, 17 Soulemane Camara, 18 Giorgi Melikidze, 19 Louis Vincent, 20 Mathieu De Giovanni, 21 James Hall, 22 Varian Pasquet, 23 Atu Manu

Benetton: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Leonardo Sarto, 13 Joaquin Andres Riera, 12 Tommaso Benvenuti, 11 Monty Ioane, 10 Tommy Allan, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage (capt); 1 Nicola Quaglio, 2 Tomas Baravelle, 3 Simon Ferrari, 4 Irne Herbst, 5 Federico Ruzza, 6 Michele Lamaro, 7 Marco Barbini, 8 Toa Halafihi

Replacements: 16 Gianmarco Lucchesi, 17 Cherif Traore, 18 Filippo Alongi, 19 Riccardo Favretto, 20 Alberto Sgarbi, 21 Giovanni Pettinelli, 22 Luca Roberto Xavier Petrozzi, 23 Angelo Esposito

Leicester Tigers v Brive (Friday, 7.45pm kick-off)

Leicester Tigers: 15 Freddie Steward, 14 Kini Murimurivalu, 13 Matias Moroni, 12 Matt Scott, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Joaquín Díaz Bonilla, 9 Ben White; 1 Nephi Leatigaga, 2 Tom Youngs (capt), 3 Joe Heyes, 4 Harry Wells, 5 Tomas Lavanini, 6 Hanro Liebenberg, 7 Jordan Taufua, 8 Jasper Wiese

Replacements: 16 Charlie Clare, 17 Ellis Genge, 18 Luan De Bruin, 19 Calum Green, 20 Cyle Brink, 21 Ben Youngs, 22 George Ford, 23 Guy Porter

Brive: 15 Joris Jurand, 14 Wesley Douglas, 13 Guillaume Galletier, 12 Sevanaia Galala, 11 Eneriko Buliruarua, 10 Enzo Herve, 9 David Delarue; 1 Hayden Thompson-Stringer, 2 Badri Alkhazashvili, 3 Daniel Brennan, 4 Dan Malafosse, 5 Stan South, 6 Esteban Abadie, 7 Matthieu Voisin (capt), 8 So’otala Fa’aso’o

Replacements: 16 Enzo Jouannet, 17 Wesley Tapueluelu, 18 Luka Japaridze, 19 Steevy Cerqueira, 20 Irakli Tskhadadze, 21 Quentin Delord, 22 Stuart Olding, 23 Aaron Grandidier Nkanang

Newcastle Falcons v Cardiff Blues (Friday, 8pm kick-off)

Newcastle Falcons: 15 Alex Tait, 14 George Wacokecoke, 13 Peter Lucock, 12 Joel Matavesi, 11 Tom Arscott, 10 Joel Hodgson (capt), 9 Sam Stuart; 1 Adam Brocklebank, 2 Jamie Blamire, 3 Mark Tampin, 4 Darren Barry, 5 Will Montgomery, 6 Rob Farrar, 7 Josh Basham, 8 Tom Marshall

Replacements: 16 Charlie Maddison, 17 Kyle Cooper, 18 Rodney Ah You, 19 Bailey Ransom, 20 Mark Wilson, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Cooper Vuna, 23 Brett Connon

Cardiff Blues: 15 Hallam Amos, 14 Owen Lane, 13 Garyn Smith, 12 Ben Thomas, 11 Aled Summerhill, 10 Jarrod Evans, 9 Tomos Williams; 1 Brad Thyer, 2 Kristian Dacey, 3 Dillon Lewis, 4 Seb Davies, 5 Cory Hill (capt), 6 Shane Lewis-Hughes, 7 Josh Turnbull, 8 Sam Moore

Replacements: 16 Iestyn Harris, 17 Rhys Carre, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 Ben Murphy, 20 Gwilym Bradley, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 Harri Millard, 23 Matthew Morgan

Agen v London Irish (Satuday, 3pm kick-off)

Agen: 15 Valentin Saurs, 14 Gabriel Ibitoye, 13 Sam Vaka, 12 Jordan Puletua, 11 Tevita Railevu, 10 Noel Reid, 9 Yoann Cottin; 1 Fernandez Correa, 2 Paul Ngauamo, 3 Kevin Yameogo, 4 Corentin Vernet, 5 Jeremy Jordaan, 6 Camille Gerondeau, 7 Jessy Jegerlhener, 8 Dylan Hayes

Replacements: 16 Clément Martinez, 17 Walter Desmaison, 18 Alex Burin, 19 Pierce Phillips, 20 Timilai Rokoduru, 21 Louis Gauban, 22 Raphaël Lagarde, 23 Nathan Decron

London Irish: 15 Tom Parton, 14 James Stokes, 13 Billy Meakes, 12 Phil Cokanasiga, 11 Ollie Hassell-Collins, 10 Theo Brophy-Clews, 9 Ben Meehan; 1 Will Goodrick-Clarke, 2 Matt Cornish, 3 Lovejoy Chawatama, 4 Andrei Mahu, 5 Chunya Munga, 6 Steve Mafi, 7 Jack Cooke (capt), 8 Albert Tuisue

Replacements: 16 Motu Matu’u, 17 Harry Elrington, 18 Luke Green, 19 Isaac Curtis-Harris, 20 Josh Smart, 21 Rory Brand, 22 Jacob Atkins, 23 Will Joseph

Ospreys v Castes (Saturday, 8pm kick-off)

Ospreys: 15 Dan Evans, 14 George North, 13 Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler, 12 Kieran Williams, 11 Mat Protheroe, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Shaun Venter; 1 Gareth Thomas, 2 Sam Parry, 3 Ma’afu Fia, 4 Lloyd Ashley, 5 Rhys Davies, 6 Will Griffiths, 7 Justin Tipuric (capt), 8 Dan Lydiate

Replacements: 16 Ifan Phillips, 17 Nicky Smith, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Adam Beard, 20 Morgan Morris, 21 Matt Aubrey, 22 Scott Williams, 23 Luke Morgan

Castres: 15 Clément Clavieres, 14 Bastien Guillemin, 13 Florian Vialelle, 12 Vilimoni Botitu, 11 Armand Batlle, 10 Thomas Fortunel, 9 Jérémy Fernandez; 1 Julius Nostadt, 2 Kevin Firmin, 3 Daniel Kotze, 4 Ryno Pieterse, 5 Hans Nkinsi, 6 Stephane Onambele Mbarga, 7 Kevin Kornath, 8 Maama Vaipula (capt)

Replacements: 16 Pierre Colonna, 17 Wayan de Benedittis, 18 Sphekahle Dube, 19 Florent Vanverberghe, 20 Dorian Clerc, 21 Bastien Bourgier, 22 Louis Le Brun, 23 Adrien Amans

Zebre v Bayonne (Saturday, 1pm kick-off)

Zebre: 15 Junior Laloifi, 14 Pierre Bruno, 13 Giulio Bisegni (c), 12 Tommaso Boni, 11 Giovanni D’Onofrio, 10 Antonio Rizzi, 9 Josh Renton; 1 Andrea Lovotti, 2 Marco Manfredi, 3 Eduardo Bello, 4 Samuele Ortis, 5 Leonard Krumov, 6 Jimmy Tuivati, 7 Johan Meyer, 8 David Sis

Replacements: 16 Massimo Ceciliani, 17 Daniele Rimpelli, 18 Matteo Nocera, 19 Mick Kearney, 20 Renato Giammarioli, 21 Guglielmo Palazzani, 22 Jamie Elliott, 23 Michelangelo Biondelli

Bayonne: 15 Brandon Fajardo, 14 Arthur Duhau, 13 Joe Ravouvou, 12 Malietoa Hingano, 11 Remy Baget, 10 Manuel Ordas, 9 Michael Ruru; 1 Viliamu Afatia, John Ulugia (capt), 3 Luc Mousset, 4 Alexandre Manukula, 5 Konstantine Mikautadze, 6 Hugh Pyle, 7 Baptiste Heguy, 8 Tom Darlet

Replacements: 16 Ismael Martin, 17 Matis Perchaud, 18 Jean-Baptiste de Clercq, 19 Maxime Delonca, 20 Jean Monribot, 21 Hugo Zabalza, 22 Thomas Dolhagaray, 23 Latu Latunipulu

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