Steve Mafi is set for baptism of fire in Leicester Tigers comeback
Tongan back-rower Steve Mafi returns to the starting line-up for Leicester Tigers at Sixways tonight in a somewhat unfamiliar position.
The 23-year-old makes his first start for the club since November after international duty and a knee injury had kept him away.
Yet the blindside flanker, who can also play in the second row, will wear the No.7 shirt and make his comeback in the role of the traditional ball-stealer.
Mafi replaces the rested Julian Salvi and faces a baptism of fire in a position where fitness is key.
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"I have not played at openside for a long time," said Mafi.
"I have played there before but that was back in my days of club rugby (in Australia).
"The last time I did that was before I came over to England in the days when I also played centre and No.8!
"I was blowing a bit last week after going on as sub and the boys have been giving me some stick that I will be even worse this week.
"At the end of the day, 'seven' is just a number and, if I am first to a ruck, I will try to go for the ball or slow it down.
"I won't pay too much attention to the number seven on my back.
"I am looking forward to it and, hopefully, I will do well."
Mafi will form part of a heavyweight back row that averages over 17 stones per man, with Tom Croft and Thomas Waldrom joining him.
Worcester have also selected a huge front eight as both Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill, and his opposite number, Richard Hill, give an indication of what sort of game this may be.
"They have a big pack and we will be wary of them," said Mafi.
"We know the areas in which they are dangerous and it will be a big battle out there.
"I am really looking forward to it and the boys know that we have been playing some decent rugby recently.
"We showed a lot of character in the win against Gloucester last weekend.
"I am looking forward to being a part of that and we know that, if we can pick up a win at Worcester, we could be second, or even top, of the table after this weekend's games."