Aviva Premiership club-by-club preview

Aviva Premiership guide
The 2011-12 Premiership season kicks off on 3 September with the London double header when London Irish take on Harlequins

BBC Sport profiles all 12 clubs competing for the 2011-12 Aviva Premiership title using the expertise of the BBC radio commentators who follow the teams week-in, week-out.

* Denotes incoming player on World Cup duty.

BATH RUGBY

Bath Rugby

Position last season: Fifth

Coaches : Sir Ian McGeechan (director of rugby), Brad Davis (backs), Martin Haag (forwards).

Club captain: Stuart Hooper.

Pre-season results:

Aug 12 - Bath 15-0 Melbourne Rebels

Aug 20 - Cardiff Blues 26-15 Bath

Aug 27 - Bath 20-16 Bristol

Players In: Dave Attwood (Gloucester), Charlie Beech (Wasps), Ryan Caldwell (Ulster), Stephen Donald (Chiefs), Kyle Eastmond (St Helens), Carl Fearns (Sale), Dan Hipkiss (Leicester), Francois Louw* (Stormers), Anthony Perenise* (Hurricanes)

Out: David Barnes (retired), Jacques Boussuge (Brive), Danny Grewcock (retired), Shontayne Hape (London Irish), Butch James (Lions), Aaron Jarvis (Ospreys), Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe (released), Peter Short (Exeter), Luke Watson (Southern Kings)

BBC Radio Bristol's Damian Derrick:

Now in sole charge, Sir Ian McGeechan's influence on Bath can already be seen with the whole squad returning fitter and leaner.

Among the notable additions to the squad are England international Dave Attwood and Ulster's Ryan Caldwell in the second row, and flanker Carl Fearns, who have already made an impression on their new team-mates.

They might have lost the likes of South African fly-half Butch James and back-rower Luke Watson, but with All Black Stephen Donald and Springbok Francois Louw arriving post World Cup, they have adequate replacements.

Bath will be without Matt Banahan, Lewis Moody, Lee Mears and David Wilson, who are on England duty, but they have known this would probably be the case and should not miss them unduly.

Fans will expect to see progression from the group stages of the Heineken Cup, having not achieved it for two years, and a top-four Premiership finish.

BBC Radio Bristol have full commentary of every Bath match this season.

EXETER CHIEFS

Exeter Chiefs

Position last season: Eighth

Coaches: Rob Baxter (head coach), Ali Hepher (backs), Ricky Pellow (skills).

Club captain: Tom Hayes.

Pre-season results:

Aug 13 - Connacht 10-47 Exeter

Aug 20 - Cornish Pirates 3-58 Exeter

Aug 27 - Exeter 16-13 Scarlets

Players In: John Andress (Harlequins), Kevin Barrett (Saracens), Gonzalo Camacho* (Harlequins), Myles Dorrian (Bedford), Craig Mitchell* (Ospreys), Aly Muldowney (Glasgow), Peter Short (Bath), Josh Tatupu (Castres), Ben White (Cardiff Blues)

Leaving: Ryan Davis (Wasps), Eoghan Grace (Connacht), Josh Matavesi (racing Metro), Nemani Nadolo (released)

BBC Radio Devon's Nigel Walrond:

Chiefs will be seeking to build on their superb inaugural Premiership campaign and further consolidate their position in the top flight.

'Second season syndrome' is always a worry, but head coach Rob Baxter has hung on to virtually all of the players he wanted to from last season's squad, and also made some very useful additions.

Wales tight-head prop Craig Mitchell and Argentina winger Gonzalo Camacho have arrived from Ospreys and Harlequins respectively, and will bolster the Chiefs after the World Cup.

Samoan centre Josh Tatupu, Australian duo Ben White and Myles Dorrian, and former England Sevens scrum-half Kevin Barrett are also very interesting acquisitions to increase the pressure on starting places.

With only three players lost to the World Cup (Camacho, Mitchell and scrum-half Junior Poluleuligaga), Exeter will be keen to hit the ground running with opening fixtures against some of the league's big hitters while those teams are depleted.

BBC Radio Devon will have full commentary of every Exeter Chiefs game this season, on air and online.

GLOUCESTER RUGBY

Gloucester

Position last season: Third

Coaches: Bryan Redpath (head coach), Carl Hogg (forwards), John Brain (rugby operations).

Club captain: Luke Narraway

Pre-season results:

Aug 20 - Gloucester 23-24 London Welsh

Aug 26 - Gloucester 47- 7 Russia

Players In: Nathan Charles (Western Force), Dario Chistolini (Petarca Rugby), Matias Cortese (Pampas), Dave Markham (Leicester), Dan Murphy (London Irish), Nick Runciman (London Welsh), Tom Savage (Hartpury)

Out: Dave Attwood (Bath), Olivier Azam (released), Pierre Capdeville (released), Alasdair Dickinson (Sale), Paul Doran-Jones (Northampton), Jordi Pasqualin (Newcastle), Nicky Robinson (Wasps)

BBC Radio Gloucestershire's Andrew Pugh:

Many of Gloucester's demanding supporters feel that the 2010/11 season was one of achievement beyond expectations, and that the Cherry and Whites will do well to replicate their third place in the Premiership and LV= Cup success in the new campaign - which they will start without seven of their squad engaged on World Cup duty, including Mike Tindall.

The retirement of hooker Olivier Azam, and the loss of Dave Attwood, Paul Doran-Jones and Nicky Robinson has been partly mitigated by the key signings of Argentine hooker Matias Cortese and South Africa-born Italy A prop Dario Chistolini. Others, promoted from the Gloucester academy, will have their opportunity alongside a core of experienced players.

How the Kingsholm outfit will fare in both the Premiership and their return to the Heineken Cup may hinge to an extent on the precociously talented youngster Freddie Burns at fly-half.

If he can demonstrate the game management skills so evident from Robinson last season, and release Gloucester's pacy, game-breaking backs like Charlie Sharples, James-Simpson Daniel and Henry Trinder, the Cherry and Whites could again finish in the Premiership's top four.

BBC Radio Gloucestershire will have live commentary of every Gloucester match this season on air and online.

HARLEQUINS

Harlequins

Position last season: Seventh

Coaches: Conor O'Shea (director of rugby), John Kingston (head coach), Collin Osborne (assistant)

Club captain: Chris Robshaw

Pre-season results:

Aug 11 - Castres 42-21 Harlequins

Aug 16 - Harlequins 24-21 Esher

Aug 19 Harlequins 47-10 Nottingham

Aug 27 Ulster 20-5 Harlequins

In: Richard Bolt (Bristol), Matt Hopper (Cornish Pirates), Tim Fairbrother (Western Force), Nick Mayhew (North Harbour)

Out: John Andress (Exeter) Gonzalo Camacho (Exeter), Ceri Jones (Worcester), David Moore (Connacht), James Percival (Worcester), Lewis Stevenson (Ulster)

BBC London 94.9's Andy Rowley:

Harlequins won their first piece of silverware for seven years with their dramatic victory against Stade Francais in the Challenge Cup and the hope will be that it will prove a watershed victory.

A squad packed with young talent made great strides last season although this was not always reflected in results or their final league standing. Their defence was second to none but they could be guilty of spurning opportunities and were dogged by ill discipline. Conor O'Shea allows his players the licence to make their own decisions on the field and will expect them to become more hard-nosed this campaign.

Club stalwart Ceri Jones departed but the club has brought in props Mayhew and Fairbrother in an effort to strengthen the front row. Matt Hopper will provide another option at centre while scrum-half Richard Bolt will see some action after Danny Care's injury.

Quins have got lots going for them in the pack with the ebullience of Joe Marler, Joe Gray and George Robson and the leadership and athleticism of captain Chris Robshaw. Nick Evans is a class apart at fly-half and will look to bring the best out of strike runners Jordan Turner-Hall, Ugo Monye and George Lowe.

If they can find the nerve to take their chances and close out big matches, they could be contenders.

All Harlequins home Premiership games are live on the BBC London website. For rugby news in the capital join Andy Rowley and Sara Orchard for "The Scrum" - Thursdays 2100-2200 on BBC London 94.9FM, also available on i-Player and to download as the London Rugby Union Podcast.

LEICESTER TIGERS

Leicester Tigers

Position last season: Runners-up - finished first in the regular season.

Coaches: Richard Cockerill (director of rugby), Matt O'Connor (head coach), Paul Burke (assistant), Richard Blaze (assistant).

Club captain: Geordan Murphy

Pre-season results:

20 Aug - Leicester 38-3 Lyon

27 Aug - Nottingham 10-32 Leicester

In: Kieran Brookes (Newcastle), Richard de Carpenter (Fylde), Graham Kitchener (Worcester), Niall Morris (Leinster), Julian Salvi (ACT Brumbies), Mathew Tait (Sale), Micky Young (Newcastle).

Out: Lucas Amorosino (Monpellier), Dan Hipkiss (Bath), Joe Cobden (Nottingham), Matt Everard (Wasps), Dave Markham (Gloucester).

BBC Radio Leicester's Bleddyn Jones:

Director of rugby Richard Cockeril finds himself without six England players and five more internationals who will be on World Cup duty.

In addition to the close-season departures, Tigers have suffered significant pre-season blows with serious injuries to back-row duo Craig Newby and Jordan Crane. Both will need major surgery: Crane is out for the season and his Kiwi team-mate for a lengthy period.

Tigers welcome seven new faces with Julian Salvi - drafted in to cover Newby - boasting an impressive pedigree with the Brumbies in Super 15 and Bath two seasons ago. Leicester hope to rejuvenate Mathew Tait, who has 38 Test caps, and they have high hopes for the young trio of Kieran Brookes (prop), Micky Young (scrum-half) and Graham Kitchener (lock).

Exciting centre Billy Twelvetrees, who had an outstanding Churchill Cup, should continue his progress and 18-year-old fly-half George Ford, an IRB Young Player of the Year nominee, will get a chance to prove himself worthy of regular first-team games.

The previous two World Cup years, 2003 and 2007, saw Tigers struggling to qualify for the Heineken Cup knock-out stages and missing out on the home front - which led to the swift departures of Dean Richards and Marcelo Loffredo. Cockerill, entering his third season in charge, will relish the challenge of not suffering the same fate as his predecessors.

You can hear Bleddyn Jones cover every Tigers game on BBC Radio Leicester - either on 104.9FM, on DAB or via the BBC Leicester and BBC Sport websites.

LONDON IRISH

London Irish

Position last season: Sixth

Coaches: Toby Booth (head coach), Mike Catt (attack coach), Justin Bishop (defence coach).

Pre-season results:

Aug 13 - London Welsh 21-30 London Irish

Aug 19 Biarritz 25-19 London Irish

Aug 27 - Munster 11-10 London Irish

In: Tom Alexander (Eastwood), Joe Ansboro* (Northampton), Bryn Evans (Hurricanes), Alex Gray (Newcastsle), Leo Halavatau (Birmingham), Shontayne Hape* (Bath), Adrian Jarvis (Leeds), James Sandford (Rotherham), Ross Samson (Edinburgh), Edward Siggery (Pontypridd), Jebb Sinclair* (Atlantic Rock), Jonathon Spratt (Ospreys), Stephen Shingler (Scarlets).

Out: Steffon Armitage (Toulon), Jon Fisher (Bedford), Will Johnson (London Welsh), Ryan Lamb (Northampton), Jamie Lennard (Bedford), Chris Malone (released), Sailala Mapusua (Kubota Spears), Dan Murphy (Gloucester), Elvis Seveali'i (Bourgoin), Ben Stevenson (London Welsh), George Stowers (Ospreys), James Tideswell (London Welsh).

BBC Berkshire's Graham McKechnie:

The Exiles set the early pace in the Premiership last season until a dramatic loss of form in the winter which saw them slide down the table. In the end they finished sixth, and thus qualifying for the Heineken Cup was an acceptable return on a season which had promised much more. With the high turnover of players this summer, another top-six finish would be an achievement in itself although the club will set its sights on the top four.

Head coach Toby Booth has spoken of being free of some of the energy-sapping elements of the squad and his excitement of working with a fresh, young group of players. Jamie Gibson proved his worth last season, as did Matt Garvey, until injury cut his season short. The club has high hopes in particular for Kieron Low and Marlon Yarde from the emerging crop of academy players.

Of the senior players, Declan Danaher's return from a second season-long injury will be as eagerly anticipated as his absence was notable. Nick Kennedy and Paul Hodgson will both feel they have something to prove and Dan Bowden needs to continue to lead the back line.

Booth says he will spend more time concentrating on coaching and less on off-the-field issues such as recruitment. Former favourite Justin Bishop takes up the role of full-time defence coach.

Follow every London Irish match live on BBC Berkshire this season.

LONDON WASPS

Wasps

Position last season: Ninth

Coaches: Dai Young (director of rugby), Shaun Edwards (head coach), Trevor Woodman (forwards), Rob Hoadley (assistant), Paul Turner (attack).

Club captain: John Hart

Pre-season results:

Aug 12 - Agen 14-7 Wasps

Aug 19 - Munster 0-15 Wasps

Aug 27 - Wasps 54-11 Treviso

In: Chris Bell (Sale), Jeremy Castex (Narbonne), Ryan Davis (Exeter), Matt Everard (Leicester), Genaro Fessia, Ross Filipo (Bayonne), James Harris (Newport Gwent Dragons), Chris Mayor (Gran Parma), Simon McIntyre (Sale), Jonathan Poff (Crusaders), Guillermo Roan (La Plata), Nicky Robinson (Gloucester), Hugo Southwell (Stade Francias), Lewis Thiede (Doncaster), Steve Thompson* (Leeds), Marco Wentzel (Leeds).

Out: Charlie Beech (Bath), Serge Betsen (released), Steve Kefu (Bay of Plenty), Ben Jacobs (Kyuden Voltex), Andy Powell (Sale), Dave Walder , Mark Van Gisbergen (Lyon), Joe Ward (Sale).

BBC London 94.9's Andy Rowley:

No-one at Wasps will have fond memories of the 2010-2011 season. Coach Shaun Edwards pulled no punches when he looked back on the costly defeat at Glasgow in the Heineken Cup pool stage and the inconsistency that dogged their Premiership campaign, stressing the lack of bonus points they garnered.

The rebuilding began early with a host of signings, including former All Black Ross Filipo, England hooker Steve Thompson and former Leeds second row Marco Wentzel, as well as fly-halves Nicky Robinson and Ryan Davis, while the squad also returned earlier than usual for pre-season.

There are high hopes for the talented young players Joe Launchbury, Elliot Daly and Christian Wade, who all shone for the England Under-20 side at the World Championships this summer, but the club has been hit by another long-term injury to Tom Rees and the enforced retirement of Dan Ward-Smith.

New director of rugby David Young will be looking for a strong start as his squad has not been hit as hard as others with World Cup call-ups and will doubtless have been working on building a more formidable front five.

Wasps do not have a Heineken Cup place this season so the Premiership is their priority and there will be a determination to prove that last season was a brief dip rather than a more ominous signal of their demise as a major power in England and Europe.

All Wasps home Premiership games are live on the BBC London website. Join Andy Rowley and Sara Orchard for "The Scrum" - Thursdays 2100-2200 on BBC London 94.9FM. Also available on i-Player and to download as the London Rugby Union Podcast.

NEWCASTLE FALCONS

Newcastle Falcons

Position last season: 11th

Coaches: Alan Tait (head coach), Callum McRae (skills), Micky Ward (scrum), Paul Moriarty (assistant coach).

Club captain: James Hudson

Pre-season results:

Aug 20 - Newcastle 36-5 Leeds

Aug 27 - Edinburgh 20-17 Newcastle

In; Joe Robinson (Kendal) Greg Beaumont (Fylde) Jordi Pasqualin (Gloucester), Jamie Helleur (Auckland), Richard Mayhew (Esher), Dan Fraizer (Doncaster), Ryan Shortland (Otago), Will Chudley (Bedford), Richard Boyle (Tynedale), Greg Goosen (Stade Rochelais), Taiasina Tu'ifua* (Counties Manukau), Goerge McGuigan (Darlington), Rikki Sheriffe (rugby league), Ashley Wells (Griquas).

Out: Josh Afu (Carcassonne), Charlie Amesbury (Sale), Gcobani Bobo (released), Kieran Brookes (Leicester), Alex Gray (London Irish), Tane Tu'ipulotu, Filipo Levi, Micky Ward (released), Danny Williams (released), Ed Williamson (released), Brent Wilson (released), Micky Young (Leicester).

BBC Newcastle's Kevin Williams:

The Falcons have again seen the exodus of promising youngsters, losing Micky Young and Kieran Brookes to Leicester and Alex Gray to London Irish. So head coach Alan Tait, who largely inherited the side of last season, has now built the team in his image.

Tait's strong connections with Scotland have seen Calum McRae recruited as skills coach, and it was in this area that the Falcons were often found wanting last term. The early capture of the Premiership Sevens title may owe something to improved handling, but that's probably the only trophy that will reach the north east between now and May.

More than a dozen new signings, many from the southern hemisphere, will freshen up a squad that was so nearly relegated last time. Recent seasons have tempered the expectations of supporters who now look realistically at finishing in lower mid-table.

Euan Murray and newly-signed Samoan international flanker Taiasina Tu'ifua will be the only Newcastle players at the World Cup, and a good return from the opening six games from the Falcons is vital.

BBC Newcastle will bring you every Falcons Premiership game with Kevin Williams and Ian Smith.

NORTHAMPTON

Northampton

Position last season: Fourth

Coaches: Jim Mallinder (director of rugby), Paul Grayson (backs), Dorian West (forwards).

Club captain: Dylan Hartley

Pre-season results:

12 Aug - Northampton 54-19 Russia

17 Aug - Castres 38-9 Saints

20 Aug - Toulouse 17-31 Northampton

26 Aug - Leinster 14-19 Saints

In: Vasili Artemiev* (VVA-Podmoskovie), Noah Cato (Saracens), Matias Cortese (Pampas), James Craig (Leeds), Paul Doran-Jones (Gloucester), Ryan Lamb (London Irish), Samu Manoa (San Francisco Golden Gate), Tom May (Toulon), George Pisi* (Clermont Auvergne), Martin Roberts (Scarlets), Cesar Sempere (Nottingham).

Out: Joe Ansboro (London Irish), Mark Easter (Sale), Joe Ford (Leeds) Shane Geraghty (Brive), Ryan Powell (retired), Bruce Reihana (Bordeaux).

BBC Radio Northampton's Geoff Doyle:

Northampton fans may be anxious over the impact the World Cup will have on their club's fortunes. Last season Saints came apart during the Six Nations and four defeats in a row during that period cost them a home Premiership semi-final.

So do they have the players in place to replace Hartley et al? New prop Paul Doran-Jones should form a strong front-row partnership with Brian Mujati and hooker Brett Sharman, who will need to improve his line-out throwing.

Tom May is another interesting signing. Is he set to take over the 'maverick' mantle from Shane Geraghty who has crossed the Channel to Brive or will he re-discover the form that led to England caps? The long-serving Bruce Reihana left the club in the summer so Noah Cato was drafted in as a replacement from Saracens.

Other notable northern hemisphere arrivals include former Wales scrum-half Martin Roberts and young lock James Craig, signed from Leeds.

But no doubt much will again depend on the Saints core with Downey, Myler, Dickson, Dowson and Clark there from the start and Hartley, Wood, Tonga'uiha, Ashton and Foden once their international duties conclude.

This will be another strong season from the Saints, with a top-four finish the bare minimum.

BBC Radio Northampton will have full commentary of every Saints Premiership and Heineken Cup match.

SALE SHARKS

Sale Sharks

Position last season: 10th

Coaches: Steve Diamond (executive director of sport), Tony Hanks (head coach).

Club captain: Sam Tuitupou

Pre-season results:

Aug 19 - Sale 22-28 Edinburgh

Aug 26 - Sale 28-0 Glasgow

In: Charlie Amesbury (Newcastle), Tony Buckley* (Munster), Luther Burrell (Leeds), Alasdair Dickinson* (Gloucester), Mark Easter (Northampton) Hendre Fourie (Leeds), Tasesa Lavea* (Clermont Auvergne), Johnny Leota* (Manuwatu), Andrei Ostrikov* (Aurilac), Scott Mathie (Leeds), Fraser McKenzie (Edinburgh), Kearnan Myall (Leeds), Andy Powell* (Wasps), Joaquin Tuculet (Los Pampas), Sam Tuitupou (Munster), Richie Vernon* (Glasgow), Joe Ward (Wasps)

Out: Chris Bell (Wasps), Asaeli Boko, Chris Brightwell, Sean Cox (Edinburgh), Ben Cohen (retired), Rhys Crane (released), Carl Fearns (Bath), Jack Forster (released), Charlie Hodgson (Saracens), Matty James, Chris Jones (Worcester), Sisaro Koyamaibole (Lyon), Selorm Kuadey (released), Chris Leck (Edinburgh), Neil McMillan (released), Simon McIntyre (Wasps), Fergus Mulchrone (released), Kristian Ormsby, Nic Rouse (Nottingham), Eifion Roberts (Toulon), Mathew Tait (Leicester)

BBC Radio Manchester's Nathan Middleton:

Sale begin the season having undertaken the Premiership's biggest overhaul of the summer - the squad and staff are barely recognisable from that of 12 months ago.

Steve Diamond, who returned to the club last January, spelt out what he thought was wrong to owner Brian Kennedy and has been ruthless in his rennovations.

Diamond has brought in large, but mobile, forwards to shore up a pack too often bullied by Premiership opponents in recent years. The arrival of Sam Tuitupou, Jonny Leota and Tasesa Lavea will add steel and flair to a midfield previously too reliant on the boot of Charlie Hodgson to alleviate pressure.

Much is expected of local wingers Tom Brady and Will Addison after breakthrough seasons last time around. Summer recruits Joaquin Tuculet and Luther Burrell will hope to create an early impression in Sharks' colours.

Ex-Wasps coach Tony Hanks, who won the Heineken Cup and three Premiership titles at Adams Park, comes in to take charge of the side's attack, strategy and defence while a host of new fitness and support staff have also been brought in.

The reconstituted Sharks may take time to settle into a style of play with so many new faces but the clear-out has rejuvenated the club. Although Diamond has targeted a Heinieken Cup place, a top-half finish would constitute progress following a couple of seasons near the wrong end of the table.

BBC Radio Manchester has full match commentary of all Sale's Premiership home games, and select away games, throughout the season on 95.1FM, DAB or online.

SARACENS

saracens

Position last season: Champions - Second in regular season.

Coaches: Mark McCall (director of rugby), Andy Farrell (first-team coach), Paul Gustard (defence), Alex Sanderson (forwards), Brendan Venter (technical director).

Club captain: Steve Borthwick

Pre-season results:

Aug 12 - Toulon 26-17 Saracens

Aug 19 - Bedford 20-45 Saracens

Aug 21 - Esher 10-35 Saracens

Aug 25 - Saracens 26-8 Connacht

In: Charlie Hodgson (Sale), Joe Maddock (Benetton Treviso), John Smit* (Sharks), Ben Spencer (Cambridge), Mako Vunipola (Bristol), Marcus Watson (London Irish)

Out: Don Barrell (Bedford), (Kevin Barrett (Exeter), Alex Brown (Doncaster), Noah Cato (Northampton), Matt Parr (Nottingham), Tom Ryder (Glasgow), Ethienne Reynecke (Connacht), Jake Sharp (Bedford), Richard Skuse (retired), Henry Staff (Bedford),

BBC Three Counties Radio's Jason Harris:

The perennial under-achievers have finally fulfilled their promise. The big question is can Saracens retain the Premiership title?

Sarries have looked for continuity off the field; Mark McCall remains director of rugby, following Brendan Venter's departure, and the young English coaching staff of Andy Farrell, Paul Gustard and Alex Sanderson have also signed new contracts.

On the pitch, the arrival of Springbok skipper John Smit will bring leadership and guidance to the younger front-row corps - notably hooker Jamie George and incoming England Under-20 prop Mako Vunipola.

But the more significant signing is Premiership record points-scorer Charlie Hodgson. He brings much-needed experience and will guide young stand-off Owen Farrell, who stood in so well following the season-ending injury to Derick Hougaard, who should also return to boost the fly-half ranks. The move also reunites Hodgson with his former Sale half-back partner Richard Wigglesworth, once the World Cup concludes.

England pair Wigglesworth and Matt Stevens will be joined by Kelly Brown (Scotland), Michael Tagicakibau (Fiji), Chris Wyles and Hayden Smith (USA) and Namibia captain Jacques Burger in World Cup action for the first few rounds of the season, so McCall will continue the famous Sarries rotation policy to try and minimise the impact.

But Saracens insists it is a progressive club that wants to become a force in Europe and last year's solitary win in the Heineken Cup is something that will be a target for significant improvement.

WORCESTER WARRIORS

Worcester

Position last season: Promoted from the Championship.

Coaches: Richard Hill (head coach), Phil Davies (forwards), Phil Larder (defence).

Club captain: Chris Pennell

Pre-season results:

Aug 15 - Worcester 15-3 Melbourne Rebels

Aug 20 Plymouth 13-52 Worcester

Aug 23 Worcester 15-21 Argentina

Aug 27 Worcester 21-24 Cornish Pirates

In: Sam Betty (Cornish Pirates), Errie Claassens (London Welsh), Josh Drauniniu (London Welsh), Ravai Fatiaki* (Fiji Warriors), Danny Gray (Montauban), Ben Gulliver (Cornish Pirates), Ollie Hayes (Bristol), Ceri Jones (Harlequins), Chris Jones (Sale), James Percival (Harlequins), Shaun Parry (Brive), George Potter (Plymouth Albion), Sione Tu'ipulotu* (Plymouth Albion).

Out: Adam Black (retired), Callum Black (Ulster), Will Bowley (Toyota Shokki), James Collins, Graham Kitchener (Leicester), Greg Rawlinson (retired), Oriol Ripol (released) Pat Sanderson (retired), Willie Walker (released).

BBC Hereford & Worcester's Dave Bradley:

Worcester's return to the top flight was hard-earned and there seems a determination round Sixways not to let it slip again. Richard Hill has opted to raid the division he left behind for the bulk of his signings. Seven of his new men come from Championship teams, with the former London Welsh pair of Errie Claassens and Josh Drauniniu showing early promise.

Hill has also gone for experience, bringing ex-England scrum-half Shaun Perry back from France, and capturing the former Quins pair of Ceri Jones and James Percival, who returns to Sixways, plus another ex-England man, Chris Jones. It is a marked transition from the club's former policy of 'marquee' signings, some of whom let Worcester down.

The loss of Pat Sanderson (retired) and Graham Kitchener (Leicester) from the pack may have an effect, but much-fancied young back-row duo Jake Abbott and Matt Kvesic are sure to be thrown into the mix.

Warriors know they will have to hit the ground running. They have had a tough pre-season, and with other clubs weakened by the World Cup, they know they have to get points from the first block of Premiership games.

Follow the Warriors with Dave Bradley on BBC Hereford & Worcester, 104, 104.7 and 94.7FM and via the BBC Sport website.

Compiled by BBC Sport's Adam Jones.