Worcester Warriors: Dean Ryan says young players are moving club forward
Worcester Warriors director of rugby boss Dean Ryan says that having so many players in England's Under-20 side is 'moving the wheels' of the club.
At a time when Warriors' first team are struggling, Ryan is at least gratified that the future looks in safe hands.
Huw Taylor, Sam Ripper-Smith and Jack Singleton are all in the England U20 team to play in Italy on Friday.
"The wheels are moving from underneath. We've got great representation at U17, U18 and U20s," Ryan told BBC Sport.
"Now we've got to get the front-end moving. We're trying to build a platform for them to come through."
Lock forward Taylor started last Friday's 24-6 defeat by Scotland, while Andrew Kitchener came off the bench. And, as well as flanker Smith and hooker Singleton making the starting XV in Venice, scrum-half Jamie Shilcock is again among the replacements.
"England U20s put in a poor performance last week," added Ryan. "But I thought the Worcester boys were the stand-out players.
"Huw Taylor was outstanding and we saw the impact Andrew Kitchener had from the bench. And now Sam Ripper-Smith gets his chance."
Ryan looks to get it right at first team level
Worcester Warriors' 20-13 defeat to Premiership bottom club London Irish last weekend leaves Dean Ryan's men now just a point clear of trouble, having lost their seven league games.
Defeat came at an added cost when it emerged that Fiji international lock Tevita Cavubati had been cited for biting, for which he was consequently given a nine-week ban.
Ryan has made an attempt to even up numbers by bringing in South Africa flanker Dewald Potgieter, who is set to make an immediate debut at home to Bath on Saturday. And, after all that has gone on, the Worcester boss sees Saturday's game as a clean slate.
"Nothing needs to be said that hasn't already been dealt with internally this week," said Ryan. "It's now a chance to represent ourselves in a game of rugby. And I'm delighted to welcome Dewald on board. He's been a great influence in a very difficult week. With the maturity we knew he had he's handled it perfectly.
"There isn't a worry about the core of this group's appetite for success. We've now got to do our talking on the rugby field.
"There's pressure on teams to win the Premiership. There's pressure to avoid relegation. All of us are under pressure. I don't expect Bath to be below par and see them fighting as hard as we will.
"We've got to target the next few weeks to get some momentum or else it's going to get harder and harder. We missed an opportunity this past weekend now we've got to try and put some space behind us again."
Italy Under-20s v England Under-20s
Warriors forward Sam Smith, who was unavailable to face Scotland last week, is one of three players to be given his England Under-20 debut against Italy on Friday at the Stadio Pacifici, San Dona' Di Piave, on the outskirts of Venice. He comes in along with Saracens full-back Max Malins and Sale lock George Nott.
England U20s: Malins (Saracens); Perkins (Saracens), Marchant (Harlequins), Thacker (Leicester), Thorley (Gloucester); Protheroe (Gloucester), Max Green (Yorkshire Carnegie); West (Wasps), Singleton (Worcester), Stuart (Wasps), Taylor (Worcester), Nott (Sale), Mercer (Bath), Smith (Worcester), Chick (Newcastle) capt
Replacements: Langdon (London Irish), Adams-Hale (Saracens), Keast (Exeter), South (Harlequins), Willis (Wasps), Shillcock (Worcester), Simmonds (Exeter), Odogwu (Leicester)
England's remaining fixtures: Friday, 26 February - v Ireland (Kingston Park, Newcastle, 18:05 GMT); Friday, 11 March - v Wales (Ashton Gate, Bristol, 19:45 GMT); Friday, 18 March v France (Stade du Hameau, Pau, 18:45 GMT).