Amlin Challenge Cup
Hill vows to attack Stade
ESPNscrum Staff
November 9, 2011
Stade Francais' Sergio Parisse exploits a gap in the Clermont defence, Stade Francais v Clermont Auvergne, Top 14, Stade de France, Paris, France, November 5, 2011
Parisse will start for Stade at Sixways on Thursday © Getty Images

Worcester Warriors coach Richard Hill has insisted his team will be going on the offensive against Top14 giants Stade Francais in the opening clash of the Amlin Challenge Cup on Thursday.

Despite lying 11th in the Aviva Premiership, Worcester's defensive record is currently bettered by only three clubs this season - leaders Harlequins, second-placed Saracens and Northampton. And Hill now wants the Warriors to showcase their attacking prowess, starting in Thursday night's Pool One appointment with Stade at Sixways.

"We have put a huge emphasis on defence since the start of the season with Phil Larder coming in as a specialist defence coach, and it has paid dividends in the games," head coach Hill said. "What we are going to do now is change the focus for these next couple of weeks and really put a massive focus on the attack and try and get that part of the game really spot-on.

"We have tweaked a little bit of strategy, but also concentrated on lifting the intensity up in attack. If we can match the intensity that we show in defence with our attack, then we are going to be strong over the next few weeks. We have got to be at them from the start."

Hill has made four changes from the team narrowly beaten at home by Wasps last time out, handing starts to full-back Chris Pennell, wing Tom Arscott, prop Oliver Tomasczyk and flanker Matt Kvesic.

Stade, meanwhile, will be led by Italy captain Sergio Parisse - the starting XV also includes England internationals Paul Sackey and Tom Palmer, plus Argentina's World Cup skipper Felipe Contepomi - with the Parisians looking to go one better than last season after finishing as Challenge Cup runners-up behind Quins.

Hill's coaching career features a notable victory over Stade - a 17-0 Heineken Cup success when he was in charge at Bristol four years ago - and he added: "It is a similar sort of situation. They (Stade) have always had a star-studded team. They have all these stars, and as a team that plays against them you have to hope the sum of all your parts is stronger than the individuals.

"You have to work as a team and try and beat them by working together. If you don't defend well against them then you are in trouble. When I was at Bristol we really worked on our defence to try and close them down.

"The way our defence is going at the moment, it is very watertight for most of the games. We need to put the squeeze on them."

Elsewhere on Thursday, Toulon - minus a rested Jonny Wilkinson - begin their Pool Two programme against Italian side Petrarca, but not on anticipated home territory. Poor weather in the south of France has rendered Toulon's Stade Felix-Mayol pitch unplayable, so the encounter has been switched to Stade Pierre Rajon in Bourgoin.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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