By A38
#20204
http://warriors.co.uk/2020/11/10/press- ... -10-11-20/

Director of Rugby Alan Solomons spoke to the media today ahead of Friday’s friendly at Northampton Saints.

Here’s what Alan had to say:

On the return to training

We all had three weeks off which was reasonable in the circumstances. Like everyone we are having to adjust and adapt.
We have a friendly at Northampton on Friday which will give everyone the opportunity to play some rugby which is what we need.
Although we played relatively recently it’s still five weeks since we played Saracens and we need to have some contact work and some rugby going into the new season next week.

You have four players away on international duty

I am really chuffed, particularly for Ted Hill and Ollie Lawrence, two of our homegrown Worcester boys who we hope will be involved with England against Georgia on Saturday.
Both Ted and Ollie played their formative rugby at local clubs and schools and it’s fantastic that they can share in their success too.
It’s also great to see Cornell du Preez and Duncan Weir in Scotland’s squad for their game in Italy. Duncan has not started for Scotland for some time but he has been in good form for us and he deserves the opportunity.
To have four players on international duty is fantastic for the club. It gives everyone a boost, particularly our young players who see Ollie and Ted, who were in the Academy until very recently, playing for their country.
It also benefits us to have players coming back to Warriors who have the experience of being involved in international rugby and the training and preparation for international matches.

You have added George Merrick and Marc Thomas to the squad

Lewis Holsey is going to be out for a few months with a shoulder injury so we were looking for cover at loosehead.
Marc is a very experienced player who, as a Welshman, Jonathan Thomas, knew. He’s a tough fellow and a good guy who has slotted in well.
It’s the same with George. Graham Kitchener is still
out with a foot injury and George already has plenty of Premiership experience with Harlequins.
He’s a big lad who I think is going to add value to the squad and he has also fitted in very well here.

What do you make of the schedule for the new season?

We have 19 back-to-back matches which is something that I have not experienced in my time in professional rugby which goes back to 1997.
But never in my lifetime have I experienced a pandemic like COVID-19.
Although we don’t have crowds in at the moment it’s important that we play. We need to play for TV and to help ensure that clubs and the game are financially viable.
People across all walks of life have made huge sacrifices over this period and we are no different.
The news of a vaccine for COVID looks promising and, being an optimist, I believe that come the spring we will be able to have crowds back again.
In the meantime the players have got used to playing without crowds but we know that our supporters are watching us on TV.

What are your targets for the new season?

We are getting into a good position here. We have a core of talented homegrown Worcester players and we have got a fantastic coaching team that I believe will be here for the long haul.
It would be great if we could get into the top eight and the following season the top six. That is not saying that we are not aiming for the top six this season.
The level of the Premiership has gone up tremendously and it is a very tough competition full of quality teams who are well coached and well prepared. There are no easy games.
But the future here is very bright with a core of young lads who want to stay and play their rugby for Warriors.

Injuries

Matt Moulds’ foot is still not 100 per cent right at the moment.
By A38
#20500
http://warriors.co.uk/2020/11/17/press- ... -17-11-20/

Director of Rugby Alan Solomons spoke to the media today ahead of Saturday’s opening Gallagher Premiership match of the season against London Irish.

Here’s what Alan had to say:

On the death of Cecil Duckworth

It’s very, very sad. Cecil was a wonderful man and he’s left a terrific legacy here at Sixways.
I was in touch with him on a regular basis and his concern was always about the club and the future of the club.
He is going to be missed by everyone here but also in the city and the county because he made he made such a difference to people’s lives.

On the pre-season friendly at Northampton

It was an opportunity for us to give the whole squad some valuable game time and it was certainly very competitive.
Having played a match against strong opposition should stand us in good stead.
We scored some good tries and overall our defence was good so we were happy with the way the game went.
Our new signings Marc Thomas and George Merrick also got some decent game time as did four of our new Academy intake – Finn Smith, Seb Atkinson, Harry Spencer and Jack Forsythe which was great to see.

On Ollie Lawrence and Duncan Weir playing international rugby at the weekend

It was fantastic to see Ollie make his first start for England.
As a homegrown Worcester player we are very proud of him. I have had texts from him and, understandably, he’s on top of the world at the moment.
Duncan had a good game for Scotland in Italy. He didn’t miss a kick and Stuart Hogg said some kind words about him.
Duncy is a good man and very experienced player and we are delighted to see him starting for his country again.

What do you expect from London Irish?

They have a very experienced side and some strong, physical players so they are going to be tough.

Is playing at home an advantage?

We are on a familiar pitch and in familiar surroundings but with no crowds allowed in at the moment it does make an enormous difference to having your supporters there.

Injuries

Sam Lewis suffered a dead leg at Northampton
Lewis Holsey is going to be out for a while with a dislocated shoulder
Matt Moulds is still being troubled by his foot injury. He’s been back to the specialist and is going to leave it for three weeks to see how it goes.
Conor Carey is back in full training
Graham Kitchener is still not ready to play because of the stress fracture in one of his feet.
Matti Williams took a bang to the head at Northampton and is going through the concussion protocols.
Matt Cox has a high ankle injury and is going to see a specialist.
Will Butler is back in training and should be available for selection next week.
Ashley Beck will return to training on Thursday and should be available for selection for Saturday.
Tom Howe is back in full training
Perry Humphreys is not quite ready for selection
GJ van Velze is unlikely to be fit before the New Year

Might you get some of your international players back?

That is England’s call. Richard Hill, England’s team manager, communicates well.
They have said that guys who don’t make the 25 will be released back to their clubs but that is England’s decision to make.
By FlipFlop
#20556
Thanks for the update A38.

Matt Moulds injury is of concern as it doesn’t seem to be coming right despite lay off, and is someone in the Captain role who can take some of that burden on the field.

It’s the nature of the sport, but Sam L picking up a knock from the friendly weakens the team against LI.
By A38
#20941
http://warriors.co.uk/2020/11/24/press- ... -24-11-20/

Director of Rugby Alan Solomons spoke to the media today ahead of Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership match against Bristol Bears at Ashton Gate.

Here’s what Alan had to say:

On the prospect of the return of spectators for the Bath match on December 5

It’s fantastic news. We won’t know until Thursday which tier Worcester will be in but the prospect of having our 16th man back – even if it’s not going to be a full house – is exciting.
Our Operations Team have met to put plans in place. Gené Willis, our Head of Stadium Operations and also our Covid Manager, has already done a fantastic job on the systems and protocols that have allowed us to resume training and playing again.
Although the news from the Government took everyone by surprise it will be wonderful to have crowds back again.
It’s vital financially that we have people coming through the gates again and it also benefits the players because crowds create the matchday atmosphere.

On the London Irish win

Getting the win was important and we showed a lot of mental resilience.
In the first half we created a number of opportunities inside their 22 which we didn’t close out. We dominated for 60 minutes but Irish then took the lead 10-6 with a converted try.
We came back immediately and regained the lead through Tom Howe’s try and we held on for the win.
The fact that we created so many chances is a real positive. If you don’t create chances you have got a real problem.
The coaches have got stuck in this week to make sure that we close those opportunities out but the manner in which we played in the first half and the dominance we had was very encouraging.

What do you expect from Bristol?

Pat Lam has done a terrific job there as is evidenced by what they achieved last season, winning the European Challenge Cup and reaching the Gallagher Premiership play-offs.
They are a very good side. They have good skills, they play the game in their way so we have got to be alive and alert.

Will any of your international players be available?

Ted Hill has trained with us all week. It’s fantastic to have him back although you do want as many of your players as possible to be representing their country.
Although Scotland don’t have a match this weekend, Duncan Weir and Cornell du Preez will remain with Scotland as they will play again next week. Duncan had a very solid game for Scotland in their defeat by France and he’s had a good autumn series with Scotland

Injuries

We had no fresh injuries at the weekend. One or two players are back in full training this week but they are a week or two away from playing.
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By A38
#21249
https://warriors.co.uk/2020/12/01/press ... s-1-12-20/

Director of Rugby Alan Solomons spoke to the media today ahead of Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership match against Bath Rugby and the return of supporters to Sixways.

Here’s what Alan had to say:

On having a crowd at Sixways for the first time since March 6

It’s fantastic news and everyone, particularly the players, is very excited that we will have 2,000 people in here on Saturday.
It will make a massive difference having some our supporters here again because without them there is no atmosphere.
It’s a huge boost for the club and the boys are really looking forward to it because they have really missed playing in front of a crowd. Playing sports in empty grounds just isn’t the same, you can see that from Test Matches on TV.
Before Saturday there will be a big clean-up from the staff on Wednesday to make sure that everything is spick and span for Saturday, so it is very much a huge effort from the whole club.

On the Bristol defeat

The pivotal moment came midway through the second half when Tom Howe had a try disallowed, Bristol were awarded a scrum, followed by a penalty and from the maul we had a yellow card and then they scored.

On facing Bath

We know that they will come out firing and nothing should be read into their first two results, particularly last week when they went to Exeter who are the champions of Europe and the Premiership champions.
They are a very strong and powerful side and, like every match in this competition, it is going to be a tough battle.

On Oli Morris

Oli is still a young Academy lad but he has done really well so far this season.
He started in our friendly at Northampton and, having played well there, he got the opportunity to start in the Premiership against London Irish and he has taken his opportunity well.
He gives everything 100 per cent and he goes flat out at whatever he does.

On Billy Searle

Billy is a really good young player. Playing in a position like fly-half things don’t always go the way you want them to.
But Billy is a very good young prospect.

Injuries

Matt Kvesic has had scans and he should be back playing again in a couple of weeks. The medical staff were understandably cautious and sent for a spinal board which was the right thing to do. Thankfully Matt was up and about by the end of the game.
Marco Mama suffered a groin strain and so we took him off straight away.
Will Butler is training fully again.
Graham Kitchener is coming along nicely but is not ready for selection yet.
User avatar
By TeflonTed
#21251
Good to see Solly coming out in support of Billy Searle.
Searle came in for some fairly substantial criticism which was fair and justified, as are Solly‘s positive comments now. All part of a young player’s development process.
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By A38
#21608
https://warriors.co.uk/2020/12/08/press ... -08-12-20/

Director of Rugby Alan Solomons spoke to the media today ahead of Saturday’s European Challenge Cup opener against Pau at the Stade du Hameau.

Here’s what Alan had to say:

On the change of competition

It’s probably a good time to have a little bit of a different focus.
We want all our squad to be playing rugby. With no Premiership Rugby Cup or Shield competitions this season and no Championship or National Leagues rugby yet for players to go out on loan this is an opportunity for some of those who haven’t yet had opportunities to show what they can do.

On facing Pau

It’s always a good challenge to go to France and play a Top 14 side.
Pau have lost a number of matches by very narrow margins this season including against Racing Metro and Toulouse so they are a good side.
Everyone is buzzing and excited about going over there.

Can we expect a different side to the one that played Bath?

Yes, because we do need to give opportunities to players that haven’t played yet this season.
With the way this season has been constructed we are going to be playing 19 back-to-back matches so you need to keep everyone ticking over.

Pau have played 11 matches this season, are they going to be more battle-hardened?

They have played more matches this season but their 2019/20 season ended in March where we resumed in August and played eight matches to complete our season.
We gave everyone the opportunity to play in those games and we have had a much shorter pre-season than normal so it is not as though we have not played for a long period.

On the Bath defeat

We created a number of clear opportunities where we should have scored and didn’t.
On the other side of the coin Bath scored their second try from a ball that we dropped and their first from a scrum where we were penalised, they kicked to the corner, got another penalty and another and then scored.
At the end of the game we scored two tries but we also three other opportunities to score and didn’t take them.

How do you reduce the number of errors?

The lads are good footballers and we have an excellent coaching team who work well together.
It’s about how we practice and we have a clear way of how we need to practice to improve the situation.

Injuries

Matt Kvesic should be fit again in the next two to three weeks
Marco Mama is also two to three weeks away
Lewis Holsey is still two months away
Nick Schonert is not too far from returning
Joe Morris is also close to returning but is unlikely to be ready for this week
Matt Moulds has been to see the specialist and we are awaiting an update on his foot injury
Graham Kitchener is progressing well and we hope he might be available for the next bloc of Premiership matches
Richard Palframan will probably be rested this week
Perry Humphreys took a knock against Bath and will be out for a week.
By A38
#22016
https://warriors.co.uk/2020/12/15/press ... -15-12-20/

Director of Rugby Alan Solomons spoke to the media today ahead of Saturday’s European Rugby Challenge Cup match against Ospreys at Sixways (kick-off 8.00pm).

Here’s what Alan had to say:

On the performance in Pau

It was really disappointing to lose right at the end but the boys did really well.
We flew in on the day which was good in some ways as it meant that we weren’t waiting around all day but it meant that we played six hours after landing.
The lads acquitted themselves well and managed the game well for most of the time. We had a lot of youngsters in the team and Pau had a very big and heavy pack.
But we had a little lapse of judgment when we knocked on late in the game when we should have kept hold of the ball.
From the scrum they got a penalty which they kicked to touch and then got another penalty which they kicked to the corner and from that they scored with the final play of the match.
It was a sickening to lose like that and the lads were disappointed but our line-out was good and our defence in the maul was also pretty good.

Are you likely to rotate the squad again for Ospreys?

There will be some rotation because we want to give
players the opportunity to play before we go into the next bloc of Premiership games.

How big a focus are those Premiership games?

We are aware of what is coming up but we need to keep our focus on the game we are playing next.

What do you make of Ospreys?

I don’t know a lot about them but they do have some good quality players and they are a well-known club.
The important thing for us is that we focus on the way we want to play and what we want to get out of the game.
We need to perform well for 80 minutes.

Does having players and coaches who have links with Ospreys help you?

Having an idea about the way they play is always useful but our main focus is on ourselves.

On media reports that Warriors are interested in Scotland wing Duhan van der Merwe

That is pure newspaper speculation and something that is not unusual at this time of year.

Injuries

Conor Carey went off with a hamstring injury in Pau and is unavailable this week.
User avatar
By TeflonTed
#22017
Well thanks for posting, but it’s a very flat sounding piece isn’t it?

Talking about our upcoming opponents

“ What do you make of Ospreys?
I don’t know a lot about them but they do have some good quality players and they are a well-known club.”

Really? Well that’s alright then.

Underwhelmed.
By A38
#22397
https://warriors.co.uk/2020/12/22/press ... -22-12-20/

Director of Rugby Alan Solomons spoke to the media today ahead of the Boxing Day match against Northampton Saints at Franklin’s Gardens.

Here’s what Alan had to say:

On the Ospreys performance

With 13 minutes to go we were 29-18 up and in a powerful position. But in that final quarter we gave away six penalties, five of them at the contact area, that is what cost us.
Overall we gave away 16 penalties to their nine. Of those penalties nine were in the contact area and four in the maul.

How do you assess the season so far?

The season is still early days and it is still very much in its infancy but we need to improve our discipline and cut our errors to a minimum.
As far as the European Rugby Challenge Cup is concerned, it is going to be difficult to progress but we could, and should, have won both games.
The Challenge Cup has given us the opportunity to give game time to a number of players at a time when there is no Premiership Rugby Shield.
In what is going to be an attritional season, giving those guys that game time is going to be very beneficial.

On facing Northampton

It’s going to be a tough game, as they all are in the Premiership.
If you look at their team overall they are a very powerful side with the likes of Nick Isiekwe, Courtney Lawes, Teimana Harrison, David Ribbans, Dan Biggar and Taqele Naiyarovoro. So they do have quality players.
Sometimes teams get a run of results where things just don’t go your way.
But the Premiership is a marathon, not a sprint. We have played only three matches so far and we will end the season with nine Premiership games on the trot.

Is there pressure to get a win?

You can’t put the cart before the horse. If you focus on the result before the performance then you are doing that.
It’s only a good performance that will get a good result.

Injuries

Francois Venter is still not feeling well and so he is unlikely to be available this weekend.
Sam Lewis missed the Ospreys game through illness but we hope that he will return to training on Thursday.
Nick Schonert has recovered from an ankle injury and he has returned to training which is a positive.
Matt Kvesic has recovered from a shoulder injury and is training fully again.
Graham Kitchener is now training but is not quite ready to play.
Tom Howe is still out with a calf injury.
Ed Fidow has suffered a slight recurrence of a hamstring injury.
By A38
#22725
https://warriors.co.uk/2020/12/29/press-notes-29-12-20/

Director of Rugby Alan Solomons spoke to the media today ahead of Friday’s Gallagher Premiership match against Harlequins at Sixways (kick-off 7.45pm).

Here’s what Alan had to say:

On the Northampton performance

There was a key moment around the 59th minute when Niall Annett stripped them of the ball and carried it into their half, we had a two-on-one overlap but unfortunately the ball was spilt.
Straight after that their number eight carried into our half, they got a penalty which they kicked to the corner, we defended that well, got a penalty which we cleared to touch but then lost the lineout and from that they scored.
So that was a 14 point swing and the critical period in the game.

How do you turn results around?

We have to continue working hard to get the transference from the training pitch onto the playing pitch.
The better we practise the better chance we give ourselves of putting in a good performance on matchdays.
The coaches are doing a first-class job but we are a coach short having lost Omar Mouneimne just before the start of the season.
We said that we would review that situation. We have now done that and the matter is in hand.

On performances overall

We are doing some really good things. We had some really good passages of play in attack there was some terrific defence on Saturday.
But we conceded what I thought was a soft try immediately after Billy Searle had scored for us which was disappointing because we had secured the kick-off.
Everyone makes mistakes but it’s important that you don’t dwell on them. You have to get on with the game and make sure that your concentration is such that you minimise your errors. If you can do that then you take your opportunities and give the opposition minimal.

Is discipline a concern?

We gave away 12 penalties and Northampton ten but five of those penalties were in the opening 20 minutes which facilitated their performance during that period.
During the remaining 60 minutes we conceded only seven more penalties so I don’t think discipline played a role in the outcome of that game.
Yellow cards are prevalent in today’s game. On Saturday both sides had a yellow card apiece and both were justified.
We have focussed on our discipline and nobody wants to give away yellow cards.

On facing Harlequins

Obviously we want to win but the focus has to be on getting our performance right.
We have to make sure that we do things correctly, stay focused and stay in the moment. We can’t let our minds drift forwards or backwards. If you make a mistake you fix and you flush it.
Harlequins are a physical team as you would expect with Paul Gustard, who is a defence coach, as their Head Coach.
Danny Care is an experienced half-back who is dangerous around the edges and is unpredictable, Marcus Smith is an outstanding fly-half so they have some real talent in their side.
It’s going to be a tough, physical game.
We have talked about the fine margins between winning and losing, success and failure in professional sport and it’s only by being persistent and resilient that you will get over the line.

Injuries

Matt Kvesic missed the Northampton game due to illness but he is fine now.
Graham Kitchener is training fully now and he will be under consideration for selection on Friday.
By A38
#23171
https://warriors.co.uk/2021/01/05/press ... -05-01-21/

Director of Rugby Alan Solomons spoke to the media today ahead of Friday’s Gallagher Premiership match at Sale Sharks.
Here’s what Alan had to say:

On the signing of Duhan van der Merwe

It’s a massive signing for the club and a statement of our intent.
Duhan is an x-factor player who is going to play an important role for us.
He is big, physical and fast. He knows his way to the line and our supporters are going to really enjoy watching him.

On the recruitment of Mark Jones as Senior Assistant Coach

We have taken our time in appointing a Defence Coach because we wanted to make sure that we got someone who was the right fit and Mark is exactly that.
Jonathan Thomas has picked up that role but we said that we would review the situation at the end of the 2019/20 season.
We did that and it was clear that we needed someone but we wanted someone who was aligned with all our coaching staff.
It was clear from the way that Mark inter-acted with the other coaches when he visited the club that he was the perfect fit.
He knows JT and Matt Sherratt already so he is not a stranger, and the two seasons he has had coaching Crusaders in Super Rugby and Canterbury in the Mitre Ten competition in New Zealand, working under Scott Robertson have been absolutely critical in his development as a coach.
He played rugby at the highest level and he is the missing piece in our jigsaw puzzle.

Presumably he would not have been available had COVID not prevented him from returning to New Zealand?

It was unfortunate circumstances that led to Mark becoming available but I am delighted that we have been able to get him.
He is a really good coach and everyone speaks very highly of him.

Your match against Harlequins last weekend was cancelled how has that affected the preparations for Sale?

We have continued to work hard in training and we expect a tough game at the weekend.
Sale are a very good side, particularly at home. They have a strong South African contigent so we know what to expect from them.

Has the cancellation of matches due to COVID compromised the integrity of the league?

We are operating in difficult times and we are doing our best to keep the game going. If we don’t then commercially it will be a disaster for the game.
It’s not a perfect situation and it is no-one’s fault. We have to bear with it and make the best of a difficult situation.
These are not normal times. Of course, if matches are cancelled and points are allocated, then the competition is compromised and that is something that the powers-that-be have to take into consideration.
By A38
#23741
Not strictly Press Conference Notes but I am including JT's comments today under this heading.

https://warriors.co.uk/2021/01/12/jonat ... m-matches/

Warriors Head Coach Jonathan Thomas has welcomed the two-week break in the season caused by the decision to suspend the European Rugby Challenge Cup due to concerns of French clubs about the spread of COVID-19.

Warriors were scheduled to travel to Swansea to play Ospreys this Friday and then host Pau at Sixways on January 23 in their remaining matches in the pool stage of the Challenge Cup.

Those matches have now been postponed and instead the entire squad have now been given a break before they return to training on Monday to prepare for a demanding schedule of nine consecutive Gallagher Premiership matches starting with the visit of reigning champions Exeter Chiefs on January 30.

“The whole squad have been given the week off which means that we can have two weeks prep for Exeter,” Thomas said.

“We then have a nine-match bloc which is going to be tough so having this down-week will give all the players a break, which we needed.

“We can then have a good conditioning week and, with Mark Jones having coming in as Senior Assistant Coach, it also gives us two weeks for us to work with him.

“We would have liked to have played in the Challenge Cup because it would have meant opportunities for some of our younger players at Ospreys.

“That is the only down-side to the break but, in what is a difficult season given the volume of games week-after-week, it’s probably just what we need going into a tough bloc.

“Of course, that’s without even talking about COVID. It’s at its worst now, worse than it has ever been.

“The health and safety of everyone is the most important thing and so this break has probably come at a good time.”
By A38
#24234
https://warriors.co.uk/2021/01/26/press ... -26-01-21/

A changing of the guard? JT's press conference now?

Head Coach Jonathan Thomas spoke to the media today ahead of Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership match against Exeter Chiefs at Sixways (kick-off 3.00pm).

Here’s what Jonathan had to say:

Have you been able to use the two week break from competitive rugby productively?

We gave everyone a week off after the European competitions were cancelled which we needed ahead of a run of nine consecutive Premiership games.
We came back in last Monday which gave us a good week of conditioning and it also gave Mark Jones the opportunity to work with the players in his first full week with us.
The cancellation of the European matches was frustrating for our younger players and those coming back from injury that they didn’t get an opportunity to play. But those opportunities are likely to come either through injury or rotation during this sequence of nine matches.

On Chris Ashton’s signing

Our back three is an area of concern because of injuries to Melani Nanai and Noah Heward and a couple of other niggles.
The big thing for us when we are looking to bring people in to our environment is: are they going to add value on and off the pitch?
I worked with Chris when I was part of the Barbarians’ coaching team three years ago so I got to see what a consummate professional he is.
He’s a prolific try-scorer, he’s very motivated and he’s got an eye on that Premiership try record.
We felt that he would add a lot of value and signing Chris is a good bit of business for us.
We haven’t yet decided whether Chris will play against Exeter. We play and train on an artificial pitch and it can take time for players to adapt to the surface.
We will make an assessment on Chris later in the week.

On facing Exeter

It’s a really good challenge. They are the Premiership and European champions and we are excited and we are relishing the opportunity to test ourselves against the best team in England over the last 18 months.
But the beauty of this competition, and the reason why we love it so much, is every game is a game and every game is tough.

There has been a lot of talk about scrapping relegation because of the impact of COVID. What are your thoughts?

There is a lot of discussion about the integrity of the competition with points being awarded because of COVID.
It’s a very difficult situation, it’s no-one’s fault and I don’t know what the answer is.
But it would make sense to me as a rugby man looking at the financial challenges clubs face, the retention and recruitment of players, the reduction in the salary cap and looking after the health and safety of people if there was a period of stability which would allow clubs to cut their cloth accordingly.

There were reports that Sinoti Sinoti came on trial last week. Is that correct?

Sinoti has been out of the game for a few months and he asked for the opportunity to train with us which we did.
The boys enjoyed having him around but he is no longer with us and he has now gone back to Australia.

Bryce Heem has left Toulon. Is there any chance of him coming back to Warriors?

Bryce is a legend at this club and I am sure that there are a lot of supporters who would love to have him back.
But he made it very clear in his statement that he is going back to New Zealand for family reasons.
We have already recruited Duhan van der Merwe for next season so we are all done in terms of signing wings.

Injuries

Noah Heward has tweaked a hamstring which has delayed his return. We are seeking specialist feedback.
Francois Venter has recovered from illness and he is fit and available again.
Graham Kitchener is back training and available for selection.
Andrew Kitchener will be out for two more weeks because of an elbow injury.
By A38
#24605
https://warriors.co.uk/2021/02/02/press ... -02-02-21/

Head Coach Jonathan Thomas spoke to the media today ahead of Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership match against Leicester Tigers at Welford Road (kick-off 3.00pm).

Here’s what Jonathan had to say:

On the performance against Exeter

I was very proud of the effort the boys put it and there were definitely opportunities for us to win that game.
We have been working on our mindset . As human beings we are going to make mistakes but it’s how you respond to those mistakes that matter. Having gone 14 points down in as many minutes we responded superbly.
We showed that we can go to the well with the best team in Europe, we finished strongly and, in the end, we were disappointed that we didn’t win.

On facing Leicester

It’s always great going to Welford Road and this will be my first time there with no fans so there won’t be the usual noisy reception.
They are a physical team under Steve Borthwick and they have a strong kicking game with Richard Wigglesworth at scrum-half.
We said after the final against Exeter that we were already excited about our next game.
Of course we would like to win there. We don’t want to be heroic losers. But to win games there is a process that you have to go through.
Our training habits and our intensity have improved in the time that I have been here and you should start to see the transference into games and losses into wins.

Is Chris Ashton likely to play against Leicester?

We are keeping an open mind. Both wings played
well last week and we have to give them respect for the job they did against Exeter.

On the signing of tighthead prop Jack Owlett from Wasps for next season

The biggest thing when you are recruiting players is to make sure that they add value to your squad.
For whatever reason Jack has not had the opportunities he would have liked so far but we believe that he has got a lot of potential and would like to help him to achieve that potential here.

Chris Pennell is in line to make his 250th appearance at Welford Road. What can you say about him?

It seems like Chris has been here forever and, when you look at the history of the club, he has been here for most of the time Worcester Warriors have been a Premiership club.
Chris has been here through good times and some tough times but the real measure of a man is how they are in those tough times.
Chris is a very solid professional and a very solid bloke who has been unfailingly loyal to the club.
In my first year as a player here the team struggled but Chris still had the record for most metres made by anyone in the Premiership that season.
He’s as fit and quick as an 18-year-old. He’s very durable and he can feel very proud of everything he has achieved in his career.
It will be a very proud moment for Chris and his family at the weekend and he thoroughly deserves all the accolades that come his way.

Injuries

Andrew Kitchener is still not available for selection this weekend
Billy Searle suffered a very nasty cut in his thigh and he needed surgery to ensure that there was no infection. He will not play this weekend.
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By A38
#25135
https://warriors.co.uk/2021/02/10/press-notes-10-02-21/

Head Coach Jonathan Thomas spoke to the media today ahead of Sunday’s Gallagher Premiership match against Wasps at Sixways (kick-off 3.00pm).

Here’s what Jonathan had to say:

What has been said about the performance at Leicester?

We had a good, honest conversation on Monday. What I love about coaching players is their hunger to learn and improve.
They want the club to improve and they recognised and accepted that the standard of performance wasn’t good enough at Welford Road.

How do you go about making the side more consistent?

The big challenge for us at the moment is that we have some big players missing. Melani Nanai is out for the season, we have two fly-halves – Duncan Weir and Billy Searle – injured and Francois Hougaard out with a shoulder injury.
So it is a challenge to bring consistency when senior players are not available.
If I was a supporter I would be annoyed and disappointed by the result at Leicester. But we are seeing some green shoots in our game.
We are working very hard behind the scenes. We have some exciting plans for the medium and long term and we will have more strength in depth for next season.

With Duncan Weir injured does it give an opportunity to Jamie Shillcock?

Shilly is a very talented player with a good mind set but he’s not had a huge amount of regular games which is what tens need.
He’s a threat when he runs the ball and he’s also got a very big boot. This is a good opportunity for him.
We’ve also got Fin Smith who is just 18 but who is in the England Under-20s set-up and the feedback from them about him has been very positive.

What sort of players are you looking for in your squad?

Everything that goes with being a Warrior – resilient, tough, hard-working and consistent.
We have tried to redefine ourselves a little bit and we asked ourselves a lot of questions over the last few weeks about the direction we want to travel.
A lot of what we are putting in place won’t happen overnight but we are very excited about the future.
We have sat down and thought our recruitment strategies and the type of players we want to bring into the club. We want to get the right people in for the right reasons.
We are looking at players who can add value on and off the field. We want cultural architects, guys who are invested in being a Warrior and who are invested in the plans we have got.

On Wasps

They have some very good athletes in their team and they have the ability to score from anywhere through structured or unstructured play.
They score a lot of tries from turnovers, interceptions and unstructured play. That makes them dangerous but they also concede tries.
There are going to be opportunities for us in the game but we have to make sure that we focus on ourselves and make sure we get our game right.

Injuries

Duncan Weir looks like he will miss a large part of the remainder of the season because of the shoulder injury he sustained at Leicester. We are waiting to hear whether he will need surgery.
Billy Searle will not be available this weekend because of the deep cut to a thigh muscle he suffered against Exeter.
Francois Hougaard has a shoulder impingement which forced him to withdraw from the side at Leicester. We will make a decision on him on Friday.
Andrew Kitchener has recovered from his elbow injury and he will be available this weekend.
Chris Ashton has just come off the training field and he is very keen to be involved against Wasps. He hasn’t played much recently and we will make a decision on him on Friday.
By A38
#26070
https://warriors.co.uk/2021/02/24/press ... -24-02-21/

Head Coach Jonathan Thomas spoke to the media today ahead of Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership match against Gloucester Rugby at Kingsholm.

Here’s what Jonathan had to say:

On the recruitment of Willi Heinz for next season

In our recruitment we are looking for players who can be role models for our talented youngsters to accelerate their development.
Willi is an experienced player who is proven not only in this league but in Super Rugby.
He has captained sides in both the Premiership and in New Zealand and he has also demonstrated strong cultural leadership off the pitch. He has done that recently with England and Eddie Jones speaks highly of him.

You had a blank Saturday with the cancellation of the Newcastle Falcons match due to COVID, how have you used the time?

We have talked a lot about our vision of being a top six club. At the moment we are eleventh in the table so there is still some way to go.
The big thing for us is self-awareness, being honest about where you are and what you need to do to improve.
There is no point making it fluffy. The honest answer is we need to get better. We will get better with the players that we are recruiting but we can also get better in our training and conditioning and that is something that we have worked hard on over the past two weeks.

How do you keep everyone in the squad happy with no Premiership Rugby Cup or Shield or Championship matches so far this season?

We try to do the best we can to ensure that the young players are fully involved in all our training sessions but getting them game time is difficult at the moment.
James Scott has gone on loan to Glasgow Warriors and it was good to see him get 20 minutes against Ulster last Friday.
We have strong links with a number of Championship clubs and, in the past, that has enabled our younger players to get invaluable senior experience.
The Championship season is due to start next month. We will have a look to see if the COVID testing programme that will be put in place will allow us to send players out on dual registrations.

On facing Gloucester

We haven’t won at Kingsholm since 2009. You can either be scarred by history and walk right into it.
We talk about legacy and leaving the jersey in a better place than we found it. We missed an opportunity against Exeter to make a statement. What a great statement it would be to become the first Worcester team to win at Kingsholm in 12 years.
It will be strange going there with no fans because Kingsholm, with a packed Shed is a fantastic place to play.

Are you surprised that Gloucester have struggled this season?

Nothing surprises me in the Gallagher Premiership because it is such a top competition. The margins are so fine that there is not much between top and bottom.
Gloucester are similar to us in that they have a group of new coaches and they have also faced the challenge of not having a usual pre-season in which to prepare and to build the groundwork and foundations of creating a team and a style of play.

How do you welcome the news that we could have crowds back in grounds by the middle of May?

They teased us a bit in December when we were allowed 2,000 in for the games against Bath and Ospreys.
But it has been very tough. Forget about rugby, it has been tough for everyone. But it now feels like there is light at the end of the tunnel with vaccinations and Boris’ road map.
When we played Gloucester in our first match behind closed doors in August it was a very strange experience and it felt like a training session.
Someone showed me some stats the other day which showed that the number of sides winning away from home has increased dramatically in matches played without crowds.
That shows what a big psychological factor home support is. We have missed our supporters and, although the players have adapted well, it is not the same without them.
One of the factors in me coming back here was that I enjoyed playing in front of the Sixways crowd when I was here before. I was looking forward to seeing some familiar old faces, but I haven’t been able to do that yet.

Injuries

Chris Ashton will come into contention for Saturday.
Francois Hougaard has recovered from his shoulder injury.
GJ van Velze is fully fit having recovered from his dislocated shoulder.
Billy Searle will miss the Gloucester match but we hope he will be back next week.
By A38
#26419
https://warriors.co.uk/2021/03/02/press-notes-02-03-21/

Head Coach Jonathan Thomas spoke to the media today ahead of Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership match against Bristol Bears at Sixways (kick-off 5.15pm).

Here’s what Jonathan had to say:

On the Gloucester result

It was very disappointing. We are finding new ways of losing.
It’s another game that we should have won. I thought we were very dominant in the first half, which is always the challenge against a physical team in a local derby.
We got ourselves into a good position at 14-5 but got a couple of our exits wrong, they scored two tries in quick succession and although we made a number of line-breaks we didn’t finish them.
I can’t fault the effort of the players, they are trying their best for the team and for the club and I am proud of the work that they are putting in. It’s just about being more accurate.

Is the losing run a concern?

When teams or organisations go through a period of change there is always a messy middle and that is the stage we are at right now.
We are clear about the direction we are going in and there are a lot of positive things happening behind the scenes.
In the medium to long term we are in good shape.

Has the confidence of the players been affected?

Obviously if you are losing you are not going to be on top of your game in terms of confidence.
But the spirit in the squad is very good. Culturally we are strong and tight as a group. Obviously it would be even better if we were winning.
We are not happy that we are losing but we know that the path we are on is the right one and we are confident that we will come through this.

How do you get that message across to the players?

I remind the players – although some of them probably don’t believe it – that, back in the day, I used to play as well so I know how they are feeling.
I had a lot of good times in my career – four Celtic League titles with Ospreys, two Grand Slams and Triple Crowns so I know what success looks like. But I also have also played in teams that have failed or gone through adversity.
The big mistake is to have emotional ups and downs. If you are going to be emotional you have to be consistently emotional.
We understand the frustrations of our supporters, and we are also massively frustrated that we are not winning games. But there are processes that we need to go through to get better and come through the other side. Emotional buzzwords mean nothing.
The whole club is very well connected, from the owners, Peter Kelly, Solly and the commercial side. The lines of communication are very strong and everyone shares a common goal.

On facing Bristol

It’s another great opportunity for us. We showed a few weeks ago against Exeter how tight the margins are in this competition whether you are playing Gloucester at the bottom or Bristol at the top.
Bristol are on top of their game now but when I went there as a coach they were also in a period of change and they had a messy middle in Pat Lam’s first season in the Championship.
There were a lot of average performances and some tough days at the office but that season gave them the opportunity to grow. They had the opportunity to change their culture, their game plan and their recruitment.
They are now in their fourth season under Pat and they have got a little bit better every year since they came back up.

Injuries

Ted Hill has a neural issue from a sore back which is causing him to lose some strength in a hamstring. We need to look after Ted because we want him to play for the club for 15 years. He’s getting better and hopefully he will play at the weekend.
Billy Searle still has some return-to-play protocols to go through but we are confident he will be fit to play at the weekend.
By A38
#26760
https://warriors.co.uk/2021/03/10/press-notes-10-03-21/

Warriors Head Coach Jonathan Thomas spoke to the media today ahead of Sunday’s Gallagher Premiership match at London Irish (kick-off 1.00pm).

Here’s what Jonathan had to say:

On the performance against Bristol Bears

I have been proud of the players over the last few weeks. Our training has gone to another level intensity, we are working them hard and training above game pace. It’s about transference into games now.
The biggest thing for us was staying with Bristol, who like to play with speed and tempo for 80 minutes. We did that and we had a purple patch in the second half when we dominated.
There was a 14-point swing just before half-time when we had an overlap and didn’t score and they went up the other end and scored. Instead of being 17-10 to us it was 17-10 to them at half-time.
So I’m proud of the effort but disappointed because we didn’t win.

How significant has not having a normal been pre-season been in conditioning?

The challenge for us as coaches with this group of players is that we are going through a transitional period for the club.
A lot of young players are coming through, some players are moving on at the end of the season and some new players are coming in.
But, at the same time, we have to focus on the now and making sure that these players are fit for purpose and conditioned to play in what is the best league in the world.
It’s a tough balance sometimes because we are in the
middle of a nine-game bloc, but I am pleased with the direction we are travelling.
It’s disappointing that we are not getting the results and it’s tough for the players. I know from my own playing days that sometimes you go on these losing runs and you need to get the monkey of your back.
The last few weeks – Wasps, Gloucester and Bristol – have all been ‘could have, should haves’. We just need a bit of confidence to get over the line but I’m sure we will get there.

On facing London Irish

They are much-improved team and they have some quality players.
Paddy Jackson is on fire at fly-half and they have some quick outside backs who are playing with confidence at the moment.
It’s a very different challenge to Bristol but one we are looking forward to.

Injuries

Ted Hill pulled out of the Bristol match. We thought that Ted would be fit to play but he had a run on Saturday afternoon and it wasn’t quite right. A bulging disc in his back is affecting a hamstring but we are very confident that he will be fit to face Irish.
Chris Ashton suffered a head injury against Bristol and he is going through the HIA protocols.
Oli Morris also suffered a head injury and is going through the protocols.
Marco Mama has a shoulder impingement which is why he has not featured recently.
By A38
#27198
https://warriors.co.uk/2021/03/17/press ... -17-03-21/

Head Coach Jonathan Thomas spoke to the media today ahead of Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership match against Bath Rugby at The Rec (kick-off 2.00pm).

Here’s what Jonathan had to say:

On the recruitment of Kyle Hatherell from Jersey Reds

Rugby players come in all shapes and sizes and they also come through different routes.
Kyle is someone that has slipped through the net but he has done a good job for Jersey over the last three years and he is one of the stand-out players in the Championship.
I played and coached in the Championship so I know what a tough league it is.
The gap between Championship and Premiership is not as big as some people think. Physically it is a very tough and uncompromising league.

On Francois Hougaard joining Wasps for next season
Francois has been a real talisman for the club over the last five years and he has helped to get us out of trouble on a number of occasions.
Big players are those that sacrifice themselves and also improve those around them which is what Francois has done.
He leaves on good terms, he’s had some good times here and he knows that he will always be welcome back at Sixways.
The salary cap is coming down by almost £2 million next season so that is more of a juggling act than is usual but have already signed two experienced scrum-halves in Willi Heinz and Will Chudley and we also have Gareth Simpson who has developed well this season.

On the performance at London Irish
Against Bristol we emptied the tank physically and mentally but we challenged the players to repeat that performance on Sunday.
The club has never had 70 per cent in a game before and physically, the players put in another huge shift on Sunday.
All of us are really disappointed that we were not able to nail that game and we want to change the narrative.
There is no easy solution. It’s about hard work and doing the right things in training on improving key areas. Working under fatigue and improving fine motor skills doesn’t happen overnight.

On the cancellation of this season’s Premiership Rugby Cup
We are disappointed the competition is not going ahead. We have a lot of young players who are chomping at the bit to player.
Some clubs have smaller squads and there are player safety issues that have to be considered.
But the last 12 months has been about the ability to adapt to COVID and we now need to adapt and look at how we give our young players opportunities to play.
That might be loaning players out to Championship clubs but we will also look at opportunities for playing them in the first team.
We need to be bold and expose our young players to first team rugby.
There will be some opportunities for them in the first team, we won’t shy away from giving them a chance.

Injuries
Jamie Shillcock missed last week because of a back injury but we are hopeful that he will be available this weekend.
Chris Ashton is going through his HIA return-to-play protocols and we hope that he will also be fine to play at Bath.
Beck Cutting turned an ankle in training today.
Cornell du Preez is training Scotland this week and we will wait to see whether he is involved against Italy this weekend.

On Ollie Lawrence’s Six Nations campaign with England
I don’t walk in Eddie Jones’ shoes so I am not going to comment on the reasons why Ollie hasn’t played more.
We would have loved Ollie to have had more opportunities because we believe in Ollie and we believe that he would be a real threat at international level.
Eddie Jones had reasons for doing what he did after the Scotland match but it was no fault of Ollie’s because he didn’t get much ball in that first game.
Like all young men, Ollie wants to play as much as possible. He has a big future and there is plenty of rugby for him to play in the remainder of this season.
By A38
#27553
https://warriors.co.uk/2021/03/23/press ... -23-03-21/

Head Coach Jonathan Thomas spoke to the media today ahead of Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership match against Northampton Saints at Sixways (kick-off 3.00pm).

Here’s what Jonathan had to say:

On the performance at Bath

We let ourselves (down?) in the first 40 minutes, Yes, we picked a young side and gave opportunities to players in key positions.
But we picked a side that we thought could go there and win and we trained and prepared to do that. But to win Premiership matches you need to front up physically and emotionally.
At half-time we set them a target of scoring four tries in the second half and getting a bonus point we were pleased with the way the players responded and achieved that.

On Fin Smith’s first Premiership start

Fin was one of a number of players in the side who haven’t played a huge amount of Premiership rugby and they will have learned a lot from Saturday.
Just before the first lockdown Fin was playing for our Under-18s side. He hasn’t played for the Cavaliers yet so, understandably, he said that the Bath match was the most physical game he has played.
But he said that he found that some things that he does well, and has always done well, will work at this level.
Fin had a difficult first half and the easiest thing for us would have been to bring him off early in the second half and bring on Billy Searle.
But Fin really grew into the game, some of his passing and his tactical play in the second half were really good.
As a ten you have to be a leader on the field and not to be afraid to order big, ugly forwards around and Fin did that well on Saturday when it would have been easy for him to have gone into his shell.

Will Ollie Lawrence be available this weekend?

Ollie is back training with us today.
He’s probably not had as much game time as he would have liked during the Six Nations but we are very proud that, as a Worcester boy, he has been representing England.
All the indications are that he will be involved for us at the weekend.

Injuries

Conor Carey looks like he will be out for the season because of the bicep injury he suffered at London Irish two weeks ago. We have extended Maks van Dyk’s loan spell for a further week.
Nick David took a knock at Bath and we will assess him later this week to see whether he is going to be available at the weekend.
By A38
#28724
https://warriors.co.uk/2021/04/13/press-notes-13-04-21/

Head Coach Jonathan Thomas spoke to the media today ahead of Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership match at Harlequins.

Here’s what Jonathan had to say:

What have the players been doing since the Northampton Saints match?

Everyone had a week off which was required because under the player welfare protocols.
We came back last week, had a training match at Bristol on Saturday which was very useful and very enjoyable and now we are focusing on this weekend’s match.

Has confidence been affected by recent results?

It’s always a challenge when you are losing. We all want to win and we are all competitive people which is why we are in this industry.
But I cannot speak highly enough of the group – players and staff – for the hard work that they have been putting in. In these difficult times you have to be tight as a group if you are going to come through. The players also want to make sure that those who are leaving us go on the right note.
We have a lot of guys who are off contract at the end of the season and who will be leaving the club. It’s easy in that situation to down tools but that has not been the case.
The players care a lot about the club and the care a lot about each other. The guys have been extremely professional and everyone is doing their best for the team.
We have a saying that you never lose, you either win or you learn. You learn a lot about people in adversity – in life as well as in sport.
It’s easy to be a good human being when things are going well but you find out about the true character of people in adversity.

What challenges are Harlequins likely to pose?

They had a change of coach earlier this year and since then they have had a spike in confidence and some good results.
The have got some very good athletes and they, like every Premiership side, will be powerful and physical opponents.

Are you still recruiting players for next season?

We are almost done. I am really happy with the squad that we are going to have for next season.
We always knew that this was going to be a challenging year but we have very clear long term strategy for the club.
We are in a rebuilding phase but we have recruited really well and we are very optimistic about our future.
If we keep doing the same things we have been doing since 2003 we will get the same results. If we want to be a top six club then are conditioning, recruitment and retention of staff has to be that of a top six club.

Three Warriors players are now on loan at Jersey Reds is there a special relationship developing there?

No, we have good links with a number of Greene King IPA Championship clubs so we are not singling one club out in particular.
Alan Solomons knows Harvey Biljon, Jersey’s Head Coach well. Scott van Breda played for Jersey before he joined us so there was already a link there and Matti Williams and James Scott have gone there because Jersey were a little light in those areas.
But we have players on loan or dual registrations at Coventry and Hartpury and, with no Premiership Rugby Cup or Shield this season, it’s an opportunity for players to get some valuable game time.

Injuries

Sam Lewis is back in training but he is unlikely to be fit for this weekend. He may come into contention against Sale.
Duncan Weir is probably a couple of weeks away.
Perry Humphreys picked up a rib injury against Northampton and we will assess him on Thursday.
Tom Howe took a knock to a hip in the training match at Bristol.
Nick David is out for a little while because of a shoulder injury.
Anton Bresler is fit again.
Matt Moulds is in contention this weekend. He’s had a really tough year because of a foot injury and he hasn’t played since I came back to the club.
W4rriorz1980 liked this
By A38
#29082
https://warriors.co.uk/2021/04/20/press ... -20-04-21/

Head Coach Jonathan Thomas spoke to the media today ahead of Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership match against Sale Sharks at Sixways (kick-off 3.00pm).

Here’s what Jonathan had to say:

On the Harlequins performance

We knew beforehand that Quins are on top of their game at the moment and they have put that sort of scoreline on a number of opponents.
They like to keep the game unstructured so we knew that there would be points out there which was proved in the first ten minutes when four tries were scored.
But we defended as individuals which meant there were dog legs and disconnections in our defence and Quins punished us.
Although we fought to the end and got a try bonus point it was disappointing that we didn’t execute what we had talked about before.

Are you frustrated?

Yes, I am frustrated that we are not winning games and we are going through some pain at the moment but I am very positive about the direction that the club is heading in.
It’s difficult in the here and now but sometimes, to go forward, you have to take a step back.
The table doesn’t lie and the criticism we are getting at the moment is justified. At the moment we are not good enough but I know, that with the players we have signed and with the plans that we have in place, that we will not be in this position at the same time next year.
We are in a rebuilding phase, probably similar to where Leicester were when Steve Borthwick took over.

What do you want to see against Sale this weekend?

We need to show some old fashioned grit. The players owe it to the supporters, they owe it to each other and they owe to the club to go out and put in a performance that everyone can be proud of.

On Nick David’s decision to join Harlequins

Nick is a smashing bloke and a very talented player who I have enjoyed working with.
He has a desire to play full-back and, with Mike Brown leaving, there is an opening at Quins. We could not guarantee Nick game time at full-back because we have Melani Nanai, who is a world-class player and a marquee player, and we also have Noah Heward, who has been unfortunate with a hamstring injury this season.
We are disappointed to lose Nick, as someone who has come through our Academy, but we understand his reasons. We have re-signed all our other young players.

On Matt Sherratt’s decision to join Cardiff Blues next season

I have really enjoyed working with Jockey. He’s a really good character someone I have got to know well over the past year. As rugby coaches we probably spend more time with each other than we do our families.
There are a few personal reasons for Matt’s decision but we wish him all the best.
He’s coached at Cardiff Blues before so he knows the club. He’s a good guy and a good coach and we have to make sure that we have a good replacement for him.
The process of replacing Jockey is already underway. There has already been a lot of interest.

Injuries

Matt Moulds tweaked a hamstring in training last Thursday and he will be out of action for a couple of weeks. We are bitterly disappointed for Matt because we were looking forward to seeing him back on the pitch at Quins.
Sam Lewis is available for selection this week having recovered from shoulder surgery and it’s great to see him back.
By A38
#29741
https://warriors.co.uk/2021/05/04/press ... -04-05-21/

Head Coach Jonathan Thomas spoke to the media today ahead of Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership match at Exeter Chiefs (kick-off 3.00pm).

Here’s what Jonathan had to say:

On the Sale performance

I was really proud of the players. It was a very committed performance and we played some exceptional rugby in attack.
There were a few key momentum swings in the second half but we scored two excellent tries at the end of the game and almost got a third.

There are five games left, what do you want to achieve from them?

We have set ourselves some internal goals. We don’t want to finish bottom of the table.
We have two tough away games coming up against Exeter and Wasps but then we have Leicester at home, Newcastle away and Gloucester at home so we think that there are opportunities for wins in those five games.
We also want to finish the season on a positive note.

What are you expecting from Exeter?

We gave them a really tough game when we played them here in January.
The weathermen are forecasting a wet and windy day so we are going to have to adapt to what the conditions throw at us.
Against Exeter you know it is going to be a forward-orientated game with big men running at you.
If the weather is as forecast then our kicking game and our defence are going to be important.

You’ve given opportunities to you players like Fin Smith this season, what have you made of his progress?

The big positive from our season is that we have been able to give opportunities to our young players.
We want to bring through our homegrown talent but to do that you have to be bold in your selection.
You have to accept that young players are not going to be the finished article and that they will make mistakes.
But the worst thing that you can do is to give a young player a game and then not pick them again for two months.
Fin is a talented young player but he is also brave which he showed against Sale. They were calling him out during the game and they tried to run down his channel but I thought he was unbelievably brave and he put in some huge hits for an 18-year-old.
We are excited about Fin’s potential. There is a huge amount of growth and he is aware of that because he has an old head on young shoulders.
With Owen Williams coming in next season and with Billy Searle and Jamie Shillcock we are going to have really good competition for places at ten as well.

What will Owen Williams bring?

We have a lot of young players coming through and we need players with leadership skills who can also be role models.
Owen has played for Wales, he’s also an experienced Premiership player and we believe that he will add real value to the squad.
He sets himself high standards and he is also versatile as he can also play at 12.

On the signing of Harri Doel

Harri’s is an adversity to success story. It was really tough for him to be released by Scarlets having played through all the age groups with Wales.
But there was an opportunity for him here and he has taken it with both hands. He really impressed in the training game we had against Bristol last month and also the couple of times he has come off the bench.
While we want to give opportunities to our homegrown players you also have to be smart in your recruitment and look for players who you think can help to achieve their potential.

On the signing of Sione Vailanu

I have been involved as a coach in the Premiership since 2016 and Sione is someone that I have always admired.
He was under-rated at Saracens because he was behind Billy Vunipola but when Billy was away, Sione always played well.
He’s a really powerful player who wants the opportunity to become a first-choice number eight in the Premiership.

Is that it for your recruitment?

We might have a couple more signings to come but those are to be confirmed.

On David Drake’s appointment as Head of Performance and Head of Strength & Conditioning

David comes highly recommended but he also really impressed us with his intelligence and knowledge when we interviewed him.
It’s important with your Heads of Performance, Strength and Conditioning and Medical that they are aligned so that you get the transference from the gym onto the field
.
Looking ahead to the summer would you expect Ted Hill and Ollie Lawrence to be selected by England?

I would love Ted to be involved at international level. If I was selecting the squad, which I am not, he would be in there.
The way Ted has conducted himself in difficult circumstances this season has been unbelievable.
He’s a 22-year-old captain but he has a mature head on young shoulders. He’s a true Warrior in the way that he plays the game but also the way he lives and in his mindset.
Ollie has seen how you need to train and prepare at international level and he has taken his own training to another level.
We haven’t had too many England players at the club over the years so when you do it really lifts the rest of the group.
User avatar
By TeflonTed
#29745
JT is certainly a good communicator. Recruitment has gone well, quite how we are able to attract a few of those players remains a total mystery to me.
We’ve been here before, and how he intends to secure us 11th place or better would take some explaining.

Never boring supporting Wuss is it.
DaveAitch liked this
#29767
JT certainly fronted up at the Meet the Coaches session last night.
He is only too well aware that we have heard all the rhetoric and promises before, but he is enthusiastic about the challenge ahead and excited by the new signings and the development of the youngsters.
I think it will take some time to get the new players bedded in next season, but hopefully we will see the tide turn by the end of the year :pray:
W4rriorz1980 liked this
By DaveAitch
#29783
From (reasonably) afar, I have always wondered why Worcester teams have not performed better than they have done. I doubt that there are many who would begrudge Worcester a good season or five. Hopefully you are on the up!
By A38
#30092
https://warriors.co.uk/2021/05/11/press-notes-11-05-21/

Head Coach Jonathan Thomas spoke to the media today ahead of Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership match at Wasps (kick-off 3.00pm).

Here’s what Jonathan had to say:

On the Exeter performance

The scoreline didn’t reflect the game. Our set piece was good in the first half, we dominated the aerial exchanges, and we played a good tactical game.
The eight points we conceded in the first half were cheap points and what cost us in the second half was discipline. When you concede penalties it gives Exeter penalty and that takes its toll.

What targets have you set for the rest of the season?

This season has been about growth. No-one likes to participate in a season where losing.
It has been tough but we know that we are in a rebuilding phase and we are going through some pain at the moment. We have taken a step back to go forward.
We know that, in the medium and long terms, we going in the right direction and the future is positive.
In the short term we would like to be winning games but we are seeing growth in our game and in the development of our young players who are being exposed to Premiership rugby at an early age.

What challenges do Wasps pose?

They are a team with good athletes. They like the game to be loose and unstructured.
The scoreline from their game against Harlequins on Sunday was phenomenal and shows that both those clubs can score some fantastic tries if the game becomes unstructured and they have the players to do so.
But it also shows that can also concede tries. We have guys who are also good in open play but it’s important against a side like Wasps that the game is structured.

Is there any reason why the club would not move the Wasps match to midweek?

We had notified the players some time before Wasps approached us that they would have the week beginning May 17 off.
Many of them had already made plans for that week and so we felt that we could not meet Wasps’ request.
We had also notified the RPA that it would be a down week for the players which is something they need at a time when we will have played more than a season-and-a-third inside ten months.

Injuries

Duncan Weir is back training this week. He’s running round like an 18-year-old and he’s brought great energy to our sessions. But he’s been out for a long term so we will not rush him back.
Nick Schonert has an inflamed bursa and we will make a decision on him later in the week.
Noah Heward is back in training and he could be in contention for the Leicester match.
Melani Nanai is back training again and there is a possibility he might be back for the last game against Gloucester.
Beck Cutting is still out with an ankle injury but he could be back for the Leicester match.

Sal

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