POWERFUL lock Darren Barry says Worcester Warriors’ players are “itching” to hit Benetton hard when they meet in a friendly at the Stadio Comunale di Monigo tonight (7.30pm BST).

After three months since the 2017-18 season drew to a close Barry says he is looking forward to “running into people” and feeling sore following a bruising encounter.

Warriors’ squad have been put through their paces in searing heat this summer in preparation for the upcoming Premiership campaign.

Barry said it had been a “tough” pre-season so far and they were now keen to show that their efforts in the gym and on the training field had paid off when they tackle Benetton.

“The sessions over the past couple of weeks have moved away from the conditioning element that we did in the first month-long block,” Barry said.

“It is becoming a lot more rugby-orientated and you can begin to see the guys itching to make those big hits and run those good lines in attack.

“It feels like it has been a long pre-season. I think that’s more do with the heat than the sessions we have been doing.

“But it would be nice to go out and play some rugby and feel a bit sore on Monday knowing that you have been in a rugby match rather than feeling sore because you have been running all day.”

Warriors have travelled to Italy with a 28-man squad including summer signings Duncan Weir, Isaac Miller, Francois Venter, Callum Black and Scott van Breda.

The Sixways side are also due to host Championship side Hartpury a week on Saturday and there are plans to face Birmingham Moseley in a friendly as well.

“The first game is always tough,” said Barry who starts in the number five shirt.

“You could be a marathon runner but when you play that first rugby match you will be blowing.

“Hopefully I get some game-time against Hartpury and then you will have two games under your belt before you are hitting the Premiership which is ideal.

“It probably takes two or three games to get that match fitness up so I am looking forward to just getting out there with the ball, tackling boys and running into people.”

Warriors finished just one place above the relegation zone last season and face a Benetton side who came fifth in Conference B of the Pro14.

Former Worcester prop Derrick Appiah is poised to take on his old club while Italy stars Tommaso Allan and Tommaso Benvenuti have been named in Benetton’s squad.

“Obviously they have got a lot of Italy internationals (in their side) as well as a couple of South Africans that I know a few of the coaches here are familiar with,” Barry added.

“They will be a tough team and would have done a pre-season similar to ours in the heat.

“Their aims will also be the same as ours.

“They don’t want to be the whipping boys of their league and we certainly don’t want to be the whipping boys of this league so it will be two sides fighting it out against each other.

“Hopefully come the 80 minutes we will be the team on top.”