Worcester face Brive tomorrow knowing they will be unable to rely on the traditional travel sickness that blights most French sides when they cross the Channel.
The simple reason behind that curious phenomenon is the fact the visitors arrive at Sixways tomorrow with a mere smattering of native players and a squad filled with imported talent.
For most of those high-profile recruits appearing at Sixways will hold few surprises. With men like Ben Cohen, Andy Goode, Alix Popham and Damien Browne in their ranks the Top 14 outfit will be braced for the firestorm commonly produced by the synergy between a motivated team and its passionate supporters.
That’s if it is ‘up for it’ Worcester who take to the pitch and not the diffident fellows who have allowed London Irish and – at times – Bristol to embarrass them in recent weeks.
There’s no reason for that to be the case. Worcester’s relegation fears have been eased a game earlier than is normally the case and knowing they can finish no lower or higher than 11th in the Premiership should focus the minds of Mike Ruddock’s players. The next 80 minutes is, after all, their season.
Win and it could be on to a distracted London Irish and a place in the semi final of the European Challenge Cup. Lose and it’s experimentation all round for the trip to Kingsholm and return visit from the Exiles on the final day.
That is not a prospect assistant forwards coach Tony Windo is relishing. “This is a great competition and if we get to the final it will be a big day for the club and the supporters,” he said.
“Last year was a great occasion and we will be going all out for a win against Brive to get back there.
“There is a notion that French sides do not travel well, but Brive will not suffer that and we expect a tough afternoon. You don’t become a top five side in France without being a good side and they have been on a good run of form.”
Indeed they are. Having become something of a soft touch since they lifted the Heineken Cup in 1997, the men from La Correze are back at the right end of the French top flight and well in the hunt for the post-season.
Worcester are neither and though buoyed by last weekend’s win over Saracens, fully deserved it should be said, they enter this match as little more than evens to progress.
Their cause will not be helped by the fact Willie Walker is cup tied having already appeared for Gloucester against Biarritz and Cardiff.
That will give Rico Gear, fit again after a hamstring strain kept him out for a couple of weeks, the chance to operate in the open spaces from full back.
If Goode isn’t able to pressurise the former All Blacks’ kicking game with some well directed ammunition of his own, Warriors could have the catalyst they need to bring Miles Benjamin and the rejuvenated Marcel Garvey into proceedings.
With Alex Grove in the form of his short senior rugby-playing life and James Collins back from a dead leg Worcester will have the youthful elan to make it an uncomfortable afternoon for their guests.
“Having secured our safety with a few games to go, it alleviates the pressure and releases the shackles and the cloud hanging over us,” said Windo.
And that could spell trouble for a team with genuine hopes of achieving continental and domestic glory in the coming month.