TOP BAR - Fixtures

Ryan and Worcester Warriors can’t wait for top-flight return

Worcester Warriors worked their tails off to get back to Aviva Premiership Rugby and Dean Ryan insists his side will not die wondering now they have returned to the top flight.

Friday saw the announcement of the fixtures for the 2015/16 season with Worcester bringing the curtain up on the new season by welcoming Northampton Saints to Sixways on Friday night October 16.
 
Ryan's troops sealed their promotion from the Championship in dramatic style at the end of May, Chris Pennell's last-gasp try and Ryan Lamb's nerveless conversion sealing a 30-30 draw at Bristol and a 59-58 aggregate win.
 
Last time the Warriors were in the top flight it was a season to forget, the 2013/14 campaign only yielding two league victories and relegation to the second tier.
 
But after a season that saw Ryan blood his youngsters and recruit wisely with the likes of Cooper Vuna and Bryce Heem joining a now-established core led by Pennell, Worcester are ready for the return to the big time.
 
"When you look at the fixtures, the first thing I think is where is the space? Where is the time to draw breath?” said Ryan.
 
"But you have got to remind yourself that this is the place we want to be. We are not coming into Aviva Premiership Rugby moaning about the fixtures, the Saracens, the Northamptons, the Leicesters. It's going to be a relentless pressure of high-quality sides.
 
"But we have spoken so much about this, we could be travelling to Doncaster or we could be here – this is where we want to be.
 
"We spent all last year with this as our main focus so to come through is great. So many of our players are desperate to prove that they can compete at this level and now they have got to go and find out. But we are excited about it and we want to find out.
 
"We are not going to shy away from it, so many of the lads we have recruited are desperate to show that they are capable.”
 
After hosting Northampton, Ryan's troops then face Sale Sharks and Gloucester Rugby in the opening three rounds of the league.
 
And with youngsters like Max Stelling catching the eye in Ryan's sides run to the Championship title – the boss is confident his side return to the Premiership a much improved force.
 
"Nobody wants to leave the Premiership but sometimes it gives you an opportunity to kick on,” he added.
 
"It takes you in a different direction and we had a lot of young guys that could not get games at Premiership sides that have developed over the last eight or nine months.
 
"And now they are in much better shape to come back and show what they can do at the top table.
 
"We have always known if we were going to be successful in the play-off we would have to add some depth and some quality to the squad and that is ongoing.

 
"The World Cup around the corner has given us a bit more time, and a bit of time to draw breath from what was a pretty tense and dramatic finish.
 
"Suddenly four weeks have gone and the first guys are back in training and the final disappears into the past.
 
"We will try to add to that but there is not a huge amount out there so we are not going to have mass changes and compromise our own team spirit. We want to keep it as stable as we can.
 
"Last year was a tough slog and we are not going to lose sight about why we went through that.”

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