CENTRE Wynand Olivier insists his Worcester Warriors teammates are ‘smashing their targets’ on return to pre-season training ahead of the new Aviva Premiership campaign.
The 34-year-old Springbok admitted he had to keep one eye on what he was eating and drinking during his five-week break to stay in shape, but has been impressed with how his younger teammates have slotted back into training, hitting their targets in fitness tests and skills sessions.
The former Montpellier centre also feels new signings David Denton, Tom Howe, Simon Kerrod, Pierce Phillips, Sam Olver and Ethan Waller have all fitted in well.
“I went back to South Africa after last season ended. It was great to see my family and friends again and just to catch up and be back home. I then had a little break in Hvar, Croatia,” said Wynand.
“(Director of rugby) Gary Gold and the management put a bit of responsibility on the players ahead of pre-season, giving us five weeks off and if we came back in decent shape and passed our fitness tests we were able to get another couple of weeks off.
“I must say the first two weeks in South Africa were quite difficult because all my friends and family wanted to have a beer and lots of food, but you have to be a little bit mindful. I had a couple of early mornings where I trained with my brother and mates, so between a couple of beers and catching up there was a fair bit of training to stay in shape.
“I’m obviously not as young as I used to be so it’s a little bit more difficult to stay in shape these days, but it was all good. If you just plan in advance to look after yourself, the shock when you come back is not as big as the one where you come back from five weeks off without any training at all.
“But the boys were all in good condition and most of them smashed their targets, so standards were set, standards were improved and everyone is on the same page now.”
Worcester’s first home Premiership contest at Sixways is against Wasps on Sunday, September 10, followed by two more home games on Friday nights against Exeter Chiefs (Sept 15) and Saracens (Sept 29).
Wynand is relishing the opportunity to play against the league’s top sides at Sixways early on in the campaign.
“It’s always nice competing against the best of the best and obviously those are three of the best sides,” he added.
“We proved we can challenge the top sides towards the end of last season, especially after beating Saracens and picking up points against Wasps and Exeter.
“It’s nice to have Friday night home games with a loud crowd behind us. The atmosphere is always buzzing. We will go out there, enjoy it and show what we’ve got.
“Hopefully we can pull in a big crowd and show our supporters we’re not doing this just for ourselves, but also for them.”