Brian Ashton should be very worried, very worried indeed. If Dale Rasmussen can't even get a trial for the Samoan national team, England's World Cup opponents today, the Pacific Islanders must have a very fine side.

Instead they will find themselves having to tiptoe their way past Brian Lima, rather unaffectionately known as the The Chiropractor and his midfield colleague Seilala Mapusua as they seek to avoid completing the most ignominious championship defence in the sport's history.

Sixways will have representation in Samoa's starting line-up, Loki Crichton begins at full back, but Rasmussen will be occupying himself with more domestic matters as Worcester seek to regain their feet after last week's slip in Bath.

They take on London Wasps, the European champions, who will happily be shorn of nearly all their internationals.

Only Tom Voyce has any real Test match experience although home-grown youngsters Danny Cipriani and Dominic Waldouck are as promising as any in the country.

That means Rasmussen will have to set aside any thoughts of what might have been - had the Samoan set-up followed their initial interest in giving him the opportunity to play in France.

"I was in the squad apparently," the 30-year-old says, a little bemused. "I got an email the week of Saracens game [the last of the 2006-07 campaign] saying I was in the squad and I would be contacted for trials for Five Nations which were happening two weeks later.

"But I did not get an email for those trials, I rung the coach, left a message with his PA, she said he'd ring back and he didn't. End of story.

"The World Cup was always a goal, especially after the last two years where I personally felt I had kicked on a bit in terms of under-standing the game. My form wasn't too bad either.

"I know I had been out of the picture a while but I was quite disappointed to not even get a trial. There is no use crying about spilt milk, you've just got to get on with it."

Which is what he intends to do this afternoon. Worcester need to respond to last Saturday's slipshod defeat at The Rec, which opened the Mike Ruddock era in a most unsatisfactory fashion.

By Ruddock's estimation his team made 20 crucial errors, most of them knock-ons and turnovers and as a result failed to find any rhythm. Bath were allowed to sneak through

countless one-on-one tackles and where Worcester's offloads hit the turf, the hosts' were devastating.

"It was a really bad day at the office, there is no denying that," Rasmussen says. "We couldn't create any momentum because we kept dropping the ball. Maybe we were a bit guilty - certainly I was - of trying to do too much. We wanted to do something special too early."

For most clubs the reigning Heineken Cup holders would not be the ideal guests, yet if three years in the Premiership have confirmed anything, it is that Worcester are not most clubs.

Their record against Wasps, particularly at home is excellent. Playing in front of their own raucous supporters, they have never lost to Ian McGeechan's men, in fact last January's 3-3 draw was the worst they have done.

It was not a match for the causal spectator. Rasmussen, though he claims the only memory he has of the game is bitter frustration at its end, was in his element, battering the Londoners' ball carriers silly.

Unfortunately, like last weekend, he was part of a threequarter line that struggled to turn a surfeit of possession into points, despite producing a 15-3 penalty count.

They will have to be more clinical today.

"The Wasps pack are quite a proud pack and they like to impose themselves physically and they like to dominate the opposition," Rasmussen says.

"I don't know what it is but every time we play them we dominate them in the lineouts and the scrum and when you get that kind of platform everything is so much easier.

"Because their set piece is disrupted it's much easier to make offensive tackles and get them behind the gain-line.

"[Head coach] Clive [Griffiths] has got a few tricks up his sleeve. They have got a couple of young guys and if we can get at them and put them off their game, they are missing a lot of experience out there."

Which is not something Worcester are short of having named all but one of the pack that started the last game. Darren Morris coming in for Tony Windo is the only change.

Behind the scrum, however, Ruddock has shuffled his cards. Shane Drahm is once more back at full back with James Brown starting at fly half and Chris Pennell dropping to the substitutes bench.

Mark Tucker replaces Gary Trueman at inside centre and Dom Feaunati, last season's invisible man, is named as a replacement.