WORCESTER Warriors lock Graham Kitchener insists there is “bound to be a reaction” from his former club Leicester Tigers after a “difficult” 2018-19 campaign.

But now back in blue and gold Kitchener is determined to ensure Warriors continue their fine recent record against Tigers who visit Sixways in the Premiership Cup on Saturday (3pm).

Worcester claimed a hat-trick of victories over the 10-time Gallagher Premiership champions last season and finished above their old adversaries in the table.

Kitchener was part of that Tigers side who found themselves in the unusual position of fighting for their top-flight status.

“It was such a difficult season last year that there is bound to be a reaction,” said Kitchener who made more than 150 appearances for Leicester.

“Pre-season would have been tough. They have got some new boys in there with a couple of new faces on the coaching team too.

“The quality of players they have got there is exceptional so I would be very surprised if it goes as badly as it went last year.

“We will see what they bring this weekend.”

After leaving Warriors where he came through the academy to join Leicester in 2011, Kitchener experienced many wins in the Midlands derby.

But Worcester have turned the tables in the past two seasons and Kitchener has sensed a change in attitude with boss Alan Solomons at the helm.

“They won all three games last season and I played in all of them,” Kitchener said.

“It was tough but that demonstrates the potential that this squad has.

“In those three games, especially the two at Welford Road, Worcester were awesome.

“They flew out of the blocks and were really positive, throwing offloads and I noticed the difference in intensity compared to previous seasons.

“I just hope that we can repeat that on Saturday and bring that fast start which was crucial last year.”

Kitchener felt it was the “right time” to return to Warriors but now faces Tigers twice in the space of a month with the two sides locking horns again at Sixways in the Premiership on October 19.

“I can’t escape them, can I?” Kitchener said.

“I am excited to make my second debut at Sixways and the fact that it happens to be against my old team adds a bit extra for me.

“I am really looking forward to it.

“If you look at the Leicester squad there has been a huge turnover of players and I am sure they have had different coaching inputs as well from when I was there.

“I was very close to that group for a long time so there are little bits that I can point out (to coaches and players here).

“But the message for the Prem Cup is about focusing on ourselves so not doing loads of analysis and trying to put into practice those things we have been working on in pre-season.

“It has been nearly four months since I played my last game.

“It has a long time but equally it is still a competition so we are going to be taking it seriously and will be obviously looking to win.”