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Mike Phillips prepared for threat of Worcester Warriors and Francois Hougaard

Sale Sharks scrum-half Mike Phillips knows all about the threat posed by Francois Hougaard and has warned his teammates that they will have to watch out for the Worcester Warriors livewire at the AJ Bell on Friday night.

South African international Hougaard scored the winning try against Phillips’ Wales side back at the 2011 World Cup, and having overcome a shoulder injury has been the key to Worcester’s recent revival.

Two bonus points in defeat to Wasps last time out have taken the Warriors to within four points of Sale and Phillips has been impressed by their recent form.

And with a mouth-watering match-up with Hougaard on the cards, the former Wales scrum-half is relishing the prospect.

“It’s going to be a really tough game. In their last game they were very unlucky lose against Wasps away, so we know how difficult the game is going to be,” Phillips said.

“They’ve really improved recently, Worcester. They’ve got some players back in there – Hougaard’s been back for a while now and he’s made a difference.

“We want to finish the season on the best note possible really, especially playing at home. We’ve had two weeks to prep for this game so that’s quite good. There’s no excuses really – we had a decent performance away last time, but still there’s so much we can improve on.”

It has been nearly a year since Phillips, who played 94 times for his country, made the switch to Steve Diamond’s side after a three-year playing stint in France and the former Lions player is relishing life as a Shark.

And while at 34 he is one of the elder statesmen in the squad, Phillips believes there is plenty of potential for progress in the North West.

“I’ve always wanted to play in the English Premiership – it’s great that the league is very competitive. This year has been so tough and there’s not an easy game, but I’m really enjoying it,” he added.

“It’s great to play alongside a young team. It’s a team that’s moving in the right direction and will get better and better over the years, it’s been good to be part of that and hopefully it can kick on in years to come.

“I think there’s a lot of young talent here – the young Curry boys, George Nott, Mike Haley, Ross Harrison, Josh Beaumont. They’ve all got great talent and in a few years they’ll become household names pushing hard in the England set-up. As long as they do the graft they can reach the heights of international rugby.”

Tickets to the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final is on 27 May at Twickenham are now on sale. If you want to have an unforgettable day out at club rugby’s best Cup Final then click here for tickets

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