Hill focusing on job in hand
Worcester boss Richard Hill has warned his players not to be distracted by the potential bigger picture when they host Amlin Challenge Cup opponents Rovigo on Saturday.
The Warriors' back-to-back appointments with Perpignan in December look likely to decide which club secures a quarter-final place from Pool Two. But Worcester have a job to do against Italian opposition first as they target another strong display following last weekend's bonus-point victory over tournament newcomers Gernika.
"We are treating this competition very seriously," Hill said. "We need a big win this weekend and that will set us up for the two crucial matches against Perpignan. The danger when you come up against a weaker side is that you take them lightly and put in a bitty performance, but that won't be the case with us."
Like Worcester, London Irish opened Challenge Cup business in bonus point fashion, defeating Bordeaux-Begles 43-16, and they face another French rival on Saturday when Mont-de-Marsan arrive at the Madejski Stadium.
Rugby director Brian Smith makes just two changes from that Pool One encounter, fielding full-back Anthony Watson instead of Steven Shingler and restoring skipper Declan Danaher to the back row.
"Mont-de-Marsan showed a lot of guts and determination last week against Gloucester," Smith said. "We expect they will be fired up for another shot at an England-based team, and we look forward to meeting that challenge head on."
London Welsh gained a sobering introduction to European rugby last Saturday when they shipped nine tries and 68 points at home against Parisians Stade Francais.
Life should be a good deal more comfortable against Italian minnows Prato on Saturday, though, whose opening fixture produced a 59-3 loss to Grenoble.
"It wasn't the best day at the office for anyone," said Exiles lock Martin Purdy, recalling the Stade Francais drubbing. "Whether our attitude was wrong or we gave them too much respect, they pretty much beat us at every aspect of the game."
Wasps, meanwhile, are also in Italy this weekend, returning to Challenge Cup action on Sunday against Pool Three's weakest team Mogliano.