DIRECTOR of rugby Gary Gold admits Warriors will be ‘one of the favourites’ for relegation in the coming Aviva Premiership campaign.
But whilst the Worcester chief will not make promises he cannot deliver in terms of where the Sixways outfit are aiming to finish, he is confident improvements to his team’s accuracy and work rate will make all the difference.
“Training has been going well and the response from the players has been very positive, but the proof will be in the pudding,” said Gold.
“I’m happy with the level the guys are at so this is a time now where we will kick on from an intensity point of view.
“It will be interesting to see how the characters of these players will step up in the coming pre-season games. It will be tough but I’m excited to see where we’re at.
“Our first goal is to improve on the way we finished the last campaign and really give ourselves a fighting chance against every team we play.
“Realistically speaking, we want to be a club that are competitive enough to avoid a relegation battle.
“If we improve on our accuracy and work rate maybe one of those two/three pointers that we lost by last season will go our way this time. But I’m certainly not going to over-promise and under-deliver. At this stage, and maybe it’s not a popular view, but we’re one of the favourites to be in the relegation zone.
“We would like to avoid that comfortably. London Irish are going to be very competitive, so the Premiership is going to be a very toughly-fought competition this season. We know how big the task is ahead of us, so we will go in with our eyes wide open and be as prepared as we can,” he added.
Gold hailed new scrum-half Peter Stringer as a coup signing for the club and believes his leadership and experience with benefit the younger players amongst the squad.
“It was fortuitous Stringer was available with Francois Hougaard away on international duty and with the A League games doubling to ten, it’s just too much for our three number nines,” he added.
“Peter raises eyebrows wherever he goes, as no one expects a 39-year-old to be in such great shape.
“He was tested like every other player who joins the club, whether it be an academy player or a veteran, and he passed with flying colours. It’s another experienced voice in the group and having worked with him before at Bath I know him very well.
“He’ll add tremendous value to our group so it’s a coup for us.”
The Worcester chief also praised Ben Te’o’s performances with the British and Irish Lions this summer.
“I thought Ben was outstanding. Quite a few guys who have worked with him in the past have said he is a big match player and you could definitely see that,” he added.
“In big games for us against Bath, Newcastle and Bristol, he stepped up to the plate when it mattered a lot to the club. He’s a class act and I’m very happy he’s been recognised at the level he’s been playing at with the Lions.
“We’ve given him a few weeks off to recover. I can only imagine what the tour has taken out of him both mentally and physically. But he’ll come back hungry and be available for the start of the season.”