THE return to fitness of “consistent performer” Francois Venter has given boss Alan Solomons a further selection headache.

A calf problem ruled the South Africa centre out of action during Worcester Warriors’ Premiership Cup campaign, missing all four matches.


But Venter returned to full training last week and is now available for selection ahead of Saturday’s Premiership opener against Leicester Tigers at Sixways (3pm).

While the Springbok was sidelined, Ryan Mills, Ollie Lawrence and Ashley Beck all had the chance to push their case for a spot in Warriors’ midfield.

But Solomons said Venter, who made 24 appearances for Worcester last term, was in the reckoning to face Tigers.

“Francois is taking a full part in practices so he is available for consideration,” Solomons said.

“He has now missed a period because of the calf injury but has looked very good in the practices since he has been back.

“He is a consistent performer. He’s played in several Tests for South Africa and has had a lot of Super Rugby experience.

“He’s a very experienced player.”

Asked whether it mattered that Venter had not played a competitive match since May, Solomons said: “That’s part of what you have to weigh into the mix.

“He hasn’t taken part but then when does he start taking part because there is a block of four?

“If he doesn’t play and is called upon to play in the fourth game then he hasn’t played a match in a long time so you have to weigh everything up.

“We will have to do that and decide what we do.”

Back rower Matt Cox is also back in contention after recovering from an illness that kept him on the sidelines in the Premiership Cup.

Cox’s availability will be another boost for Solomons who is likely to be without flanker Sam Lewis (ribs).

“Coxy was in full training this week which was nice to see,” Solomons said.

“There are tough decisions there.

“I believe there is good strength in depth in the squad and there’s a lot of competition.”

Warriors defeated Leicester 57-23 at Sixways on the opening day before going down 36-28 at Bath, 34-19 to Exeter Chiefs and then 39-6 at Wasps.

But Solomons said he had not decided on his starting XV to face Leicester in the league opener before tackling Wasps at the weekend.

“We may have had an idea of a squad of players (for the Leicester game),” Solomons said.

“On reflection I kept an open mind on it.

“We spent a considerable time on Sunday discussing the matter.”

On facing Tigers, Solomons added: “Every side has good strength in depth, they are well prepared and well coached.

“You will not have an easy game. Leicester are a good team and club.

“They have built a bit of momentum in the Premiership Cup so it will be a tough game.

“We have to perform to the best of our ability.”