YOU have to feel sorry for former Rotherham Titans trio Charlie Mulchrone, Dan Sanderson and Ben Sowrey.
They return to Clifton Lane in Worcester Warriors colours today and, undoubtedly, will be given a friendly welcome by supporters who embraced them so warmly, particularly during the club’s heroics last season.
But, of course, as Rotherham coach Lee Blackett explained to The Yorkshire Post, none of this swift reunion should be happening at all.
“They are three really good players and our boys are looking forward to playing against them,” he said.
“We’d like to think we know as much about them as they probably do themselves.
“Dan’s an outstanding line-out forward and is so good in that area, Ben is a fine hooker and did great for us last year while Charlie would be one of the biggest losses for any club not just ourselves.
“That’s because of his leadership off the field not just on it.
“He is a big threat and he is a Premiership rugby player.
“In fact, he actually thought he was joining a Premiership club but, unfortunately, he now finds himself playing for a Championship one.
“Charlie’s certainly a class player but I’d like to think our scrum-halves are playing well so far this year and have now taken over from him.”
When it was announced in February that Rotherham captain Mulchrone would be joining Worcester in 2014-15, they, of course, were still in the top-flight and fighting for survival.
They lost that battle and, so, now find themselves in the second tier desperate to make an immediate return.
Like Rotherham, they lost their opening fixture but have followed up with three successive wins.
Blackett added: “They are one of the clear favourites to win the title along with Bristol and by some way, too, from everyone else.
“It’s up to the rest to play catch-up and we know it’s going to be a real tough game for us come Saturday.
“It’s not often we play at home and are underdogs but that will be the case versus Worcester. We’ll be massive underdogs.
“Everyone is up for this, though, and we know the challenge ahead.
“We’re doing well but we must now test ourselves against some of the big guns and see how we fare.”
Rotherham, the surprise package of last season when they topped the table at times before finishing fourth, have shown plenty of early signs they will continue progressing.
But has Blackett found that opponents are more aware of their tactics in 2014-15?
“In fairness, people knew what we were about after three or four games last season,” he added.
“It didn’t take a rocket scientist to work out what we were doing and people do so much analysis nowadays it was always going to happen.
“For instance, we watch opponents a minimum of three times and teams know plenty about us, too, so that’s not an issue. We’re satisfied with how we’re going.
“Even though we lost the first game (versus London Scottish), I was pretty happy with that performance and against Bedford we were really good.
“If anything, we’ve not been at our best over the last two weeks (winning against Plymouth and then in Jersey) but, hopefully, all the hard work will come to fruition against Worcester.”
Blackett believes this will be their biggest examination yet.
Worcester, led by Dean Ryan, lost against Bristol but have delivered wins since over Moseley, Doncaster and Nottingham.
“They have threats all over the park,” admitted Blackett.
“They have a very good line-out and pace right across the backline plus a really good scrum.
“We’re really happy with how our own scrum is going this season and how it is developing.
“This, though, is the biggest of tests for it as Worcester have one of, if not the, best scrum in the division.”
Rotherham have made three changes to the side that beat Jersey 32-29, Blackett putting together a new centre partnership of Chris Harris and Jack Roberts as they return from injuries.
Up front, Mark Tampin comes in for the injured Lewis Thiede at tighthead prop.
Worcester academy youngster Perry Humphreys will be given his debut as Worcester make seven changes to the team which thrashed Nottingham. Assistant coach Carl Hogg, the former Leeds and Scotland back-row, said: “It’s opportunities for our younger lads.
“Ideally you want your frontline players and, over the last few weeks, we haven’t always had that available.”
Winger Humphreys, who has impressed at full-back in three outings for the reserves, takes his place in a youthful backline that also includes Andy Symons, Max Stelling, Sam Smith and full-back Ben Howard, who deputises for England’s Chris Pennell for a fourth successive week.
Worcester have also signed ex-Bath flanker Matt Gilbert, the 28 year-old who is the only deaf professional sportsman in England.