With one of the shortest Players In/Players Out lists in the Guinness Premiership, Jon Hobbs evaluates Worcester Warriors’ chances this season.
Willie Walker: key player for the Warriors
Willie Walker (Gloucester)
Adam Black (Dragons)
Olivier Sourgens (Bordeaux-Begles)
Ben Jones (Rugby League)
Matt Powell (Retired)
Loki Crichton (Suntory RFC)
Chris Horsman (Retired)
Darren Morris (Released)
There has been little activity in the transfer department at Worcester – Mike Ruddock has put his faith in the squad that struggled to an 11th placed finish last season.
Much of what was good about the Warriors towards the end of the last campaign was due to the on-loan Willie Walker and he has now signed on full-time to carry on where he left off. With Walker a part of a back line containing Rico Gear, Sam Tuitupo, Miles Benjamin and Chris Latham, there should be plenty of tries for the Sixways faithful to watch.
Another shining light this season could be James Collins, the young Worcester flanker. He had some fantastic matches last season and should come of age this year.
However there are two obvious flaws to this squad – 1) injuries; 2) front five. As soon as the 1st XV starts to pick up knocks, there is very little quality to replace them. With the retirement of Chris Horsman and with Darren Morris coming to the end of his career, Worcester look woefully short of quality in the tight.
Ruddock will be hoping for a good start while the squad is fresh in order to put some wins on the board early on and ease the pressure for the rest of the season. With opening fixtures against Northampton, Leeds and Gloucester, Worcester will have every opportunity to take one or two early victories. It is likely they will be in a dog fight with Leeds and Newcastle at the lower end of the premiership but I can’t see them going down.