DIRECTOR of rugby Dean Ryan has thrown the gauntlet down to his young players ahead of Worcester Warriors’ much anticipated return to the Aviva Premiership.
Warriors are expected to be fighting it out for survival following their promotion from the Greene King IPA Championship.
And Ryan admitted it would be a big challenge for his players as they prepare to host Northampton Saints at Sixways on Friday.
Max Stelling, Andy Symons, Ben Howard, Ryan Mills and Darren O’Shea are among Worcester’s brightest prospects who all shone last season.
But the Warriors boss insisted they will need to find their feet quickly in the top flight as he bids to steer his side to safety.
“It is going to be a massive step up for us and we need our youngsters to step up,” Ryan said.
“If they don’t, we are going to struggle. If they do, then we are going to have some fun.
“We have got a lot of guys who have waited for this opportunity, so there is no point being daunted by it.”
He added: “There is going to be less opportunities around as there is no LV=Cup, so it is now about performing.
“They’ve had their year of learning, so now they’ve got to step up.”
Since sealing their place in the Premiership, Warriors have snapped up 94-cap Ireland lock Donncha O’Callaghan, Fiji ace Tevita Cavubati and South African World Cup-winner Wynand Olivier.
And Ryan said patience was key to their additions which he believes have strengthened the ‘spine’ of his side.
“All summer we have looked and waited for the people we think are right,” Ryan said.
“We have stayed true to what it is we want and when those opportunities arose we have acted quickly and got them.
“I am pretty pleased with our summer activity as I think it has addressed some areas we needed to address before going into the Premiership.”
In the 2013/14 season Worcester were relegated after picking up just two wins, but Ryan said he was confident his side had the ability to compete against the country’s best.
“This is a vastly different squad to the one two years ago,” Ryan said. “Back then there was a lot of people who were here for the wrong reasons.
“But now this squad is back here for the right reasons and with a lot of scope to get better and that’s what we wanted to do.
“We are all excited now and hopefully we can maintain that excitement from week to week because if we do we will be alright.”