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Worcester Warriors call on experienced heads for European finale

Warriors have called on the experience of Ireland international Donncha O’Callaghan and captain GJ van Velze for their trip to La Rochelle on Friday (kick-off 6.30pm GMT).

O'Callaghan, who has played in every Aviva Premiership match this season, will gain his first taste of European action with Warriors – as will Van Velze, who is set to return from injury for his first appearance since November's clash with Saracens at Twickenham.

Head Coach Carl Hogg has named a strong squad as Warriors look to end their European Challenge Cup campaign with victory.

The front row sees three changes from last weekend's side as Val Rapava Ruskin, Dan George and Nick Schonert all come in, while Ryan Mills' inclusion is the solitary change in the backline. 

Meanwhile, Matt Cox could be in line for his 50th Warriors appearance if he comes off the bench.

Hogg said: "It seems like a long time ago since La Rochelle visited us. We put in a very good performance and claimed a very good victory in what were challenging and difficult conditions against a big forward pack. 

"We played very well that afternoon and we'll be looking to replicate that over in France. French teams tend to put a massive emphasis on winning at home so it's going to be a challenge for this group.

"The first 20 minutes is critical for us. We've got to go there and box clever and put pressure back on La Rochelle. They're the home side and all the pressure is on them to come out and play.”
 
Worcester Warriors
15 Ben Howard
14 Andy Short
13 Andy Symons
12 Ryan Mills
11 Dean Hammond
10 Tiff Eden
9 Luke Baldwin

1 Val Rapava Ruskin
2 Dan George
3 Nick Schonert
4 Donncha O'Callaghan
5 Dan Sanderson
6 Marco Mama
7 Carl Kirwan
8 GJ van Velze (C)

Replacements 
16 Ryan Bower
17 Ben Sowrey
18 Mike Daniels
19 Huw Taylor
20 Matt Cox
21 Charlie Mulchrone
22 Max Stelling
23 Perry Humphreys 

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