Marcel Garvey returns to Kingsholm today with Mike Ruddock’s latest endorsement of his England credentials ringing in his ears.
The in form Worcester wing has enjoyed a steady renaissance since coming back from a long term hip injury and after three tries and a glorious assist in his last four matches, Ruddock thinks his most potent runner is back to his best.
In fact the director of rugby has been so impressed with the 25-year-old’s recent performances that he believes it merits consideration for this summer’s Churchill Cup campaign.
“He is back to his best, the break he made against Bristol, the try he scored against Gloucester and the two last weekend show he is getting more and more confident,” the director of rugby says.
“There are work-ons in his game but his finishing power and pace are back to where they were last season. We really missed those aspects when he was injured.”
If Garvey can bring those to bear on this evening’s proceedings in Worcester’s penultimate Premiership fixture, the visitors could pick up their first ever win at Kingsholm against a side some of whose number were involved in Saturday’s EDF Energy Cup final.
Worcester have had their own recent – unhappy – experience of midweek matches and they learned just one thing, it was that such schedules are far from ideal. They also have the knowledge of what it is like to beat their near-neighbours having triumphed 14-10 at Sixways only last month. Garvey scored in that match with a breakaway try that required little of that undoubted pace, it was, however, a poignant way to announce both his return and a reservoir of untapped potential.
“There is still 20 per cent more to come from Marcel, there’s lots of fine tuning that could be made to his game,” Ruddock says. “His defence can always be improved and while he’s starting to appear at first receiver, he could do that more.
“But what you cannot coach is that ability to finish, he has that big time and I would like to think he is getting back to a stage where he could challenge for a Saxons berth in the Churchill Cup.”
He is likely to be a lone candidate, however. Matt Mullan, the only other real contender, has had his shoulder surgery and will clearly not play again this term.
Kai Horstmann is also a major doubt to see active service having broken two ribs against Brive last Saturday. Only a place in the European Challenge Cup final would give the No?8 any chance of changing that.
Gloucester boss Dean Ryan, meanwhile, has made several changes from the Twickenham debacle for his team’s second game in three days, although England internationals Mike Tindall and Iain Balshaw are still out through injury.
Carlos Spencer, cup-tied for the EDF final which saw Gloucester crushed 50-12 by Cardiff Blues, returns at fly half, with Olly Barkley taking on the inside centre role and Charlie Sharples replacing full back Olly Morgan.