SUDDENLY life at Worcester Warriors does not look so rosy for Max Stelling as the club’s blossoming young talent now finds himself starved of the spotlight.
Last season, the 21-year-old made rapid progress, making 24 appearances, scoring 17 tries and earning high praise from director of rugby Dean Ryan.
The centre even landed a new deal at the club in Stelling, with Ryan describing him as a green shoot of what he was trying to build at Sixways.
However, Stelling has yet to flourish in the top flight and has fallen behind summer signing Wynand Olivier and Alex Grove in the pecking order.
Ryan said he was hoping to offer more opportunities for players to stake their claim after Warriors’ crunch clash against Newcastle on Saturday.
But he insisted Stelling had parts of his game he needed to improve to get himself back into the first team fold.
“The standards have been set by this group and if you want to get in that side you have to be above those,” he said.
“And that’s the reality of professional sport.
“I am sure he is keen to get back in, but he needs to pass the standards set by Wynand (Olivier) and Ryan (Mills), so to challenge for that place he needs to get better at key areas.”
Stelling was part of the Worcester Cavaliers side which suffered a 26-23 defeat to Sale Sharks last week.
As well as featuring a host of Warriors’ academy aces, the team also featured new signing Carl Kirwan, Fiji international Ravai Fatiaki, former Bath back rower Mat Gilbert and experienced lock Dan Sanderson.
And Ryan admitted he had also challenged them to step up their game.
“Some of the reasons that group are there is because they are either not operating at the pace, the accuracy or the physicality we want,” Ryan added.
“So the people we are going with week to week are the ones we think are the best at that and that’s the standards we are driving across the club, so we have got to be able to see that form every week.”