Sanderson is back to lift struggling Warriors
Mike Ruddock takes his Worcester Warriors back to the Guinness Premiership battleground tonight safe in the knowledge his Captain Fantastic is back.
After a six-week break to concentrate on the EDF Energy Cup and European Challenge Cup, Worcester return to the bread and butter of the league when they visit Stockport to face third-placed Sale Sharks.
For captain Pat Sanderson, not only does it mark a return to the club where his career began but it will also be his first start of the season having finally overcome the leg injury that kept him sidelined since summer.
The Cheshire man made a second-half appearance as a replacement in the EDF Energy Cup defeat to Harlequins just under two weeks ago and marked his comeback with a try.
However the inspirational skipper has been greatly needed for the Warriors’ Premiership campaign, where they have won just one in five and find themselves second from bottom.
The talismanic flanker’s importance is highlighted by the fact Worcester’s director of rugby emits nothing but glowing praise on the subject of the former England captain. “It makes a massive difference having him back,” gushes Ruddock. “You want your team to be more than a one-man team but every good captain in the prime of his career is going to be a massive influence to any team. Pat is certainly a massive influence to our team and to have him back is great news for us.
“Captain Fantastic Pat Sanderson will make a big difference to our contact skills (at Sale) and the challenge that we put in on the contact area.”
In total Ruddock has made six changes to his starting line-up for tonight’s tussle in Greater Manchester.
Centre Dale Rasmussen, winger Miles Benjamin and No?8 Kai Horstmann have all been declared fit enough to start at Edgeley Park.
Meanwhile scrum half Ryan Powell is given the nod at number nine while lock Craig Gillies also returns to the side.
Pacific Islanders’ hooker Aleki Lutui also plays despite his wife giving birth on Tuesday evening.