DIRECTOR of rugby Dean Ryan says Worcester Warriors are in ‘buoyant’ mood ahead of tomorrow’s local derby against Gloucester at Kingsholm.
Since their return to the Aviva Premiership, Worcester have beaten Northampton Saints and almost come away with a losing bonus point from Sale Sharks.
And Ryan said his players can take great confidence from the way they have started as he believes they have shown they can compete with the best.
Their next opponents, Gloucester, have also won one, lost one in their opening two fixtures and Ryan said his newly-promoted side are excited to challenge their local rivals.
“A local derby in front of a big crowd is a game you want and now let’s to get ready to see how get on,” he said.
“We have had played two matches – won one, lost one, let a bonus point slip by, so we are pretty buoyant that we can compete and now we have got to drive ourselves to get better.
“It’s not just about swimming each week and seeing if we can stay above water.
“We want to see if we can really nail down some results and I’m pleased with the response from the squad.”
New signing Tevita Cavubati has been handed his first start alongside Donncha O’Callaghan as Ryan names the same 23 that faced Sale Sharks last week.
Internationals Chris Pennell and Cooper Vuna join Tom Biggs once again in the back three, while Wynand Olivier partners Ryan Mills in midfield and Tom Heathcote links up with Jonny Arr at half-back.
Captain GJ van Velze lines up alongside the Premiership’s top-tackler Phil Dowson and Marco Mama in the back-row, while Na’ama Leleimalefaga, Niall Annett and Nick Schonert complete the front-row.
Former Gloucester head coach Ryan described Kingsholm as ‘one of the toughest places to play’ and said his players will have be ‘robust’ to stand a chance of winning.
“Against Northampton I think we showed glimpses of what we are capable of doing when we get the right areas of the field,” Ryan added.
“Against Sale, I think we learned as a team that sometimes the game is played differently.
“They kicked everything at us and kept us penned in our own half and we have got to find out how to get out that as Gloucester are kicking a huge amount of ball.
“We are enjoying where we are at the moment. We are getting to terms with the fact that we are very competitive and now the time is to have a crack at it.”
Warriors’ side to face Gloucester: Pennell, Biggs, Olivier, Mills, Vuna, Heathcote, Arr, Leleimalefaga, Annett, Schonert, O’Callaghan, Cavubati, Dowson, Mama, Van Velze (C)
Replacements: George, Rapava Ruskin, Rees, Barry, Cox, Mulchrone, Lamb, Howard