Tom Heathcote cannot help but have mixed emotions when he looks back on Worcester Warriors’ first season back in Aviva Premiership Rugby.
Dean Ryan’s side achieved their stated aim of top-flight survival and are guaranteed to finish tenth in the table ahead of their final clash of the season against Saracens at Sixways on Saturday.
But a lack of consistency over the campaign has let them down and Heathcote admits his side have had to learn their lessons.
“We are really happy with a lot of the games we have played and the wins we have managed to get,” said the 24-year-old.
“But at the same time there is a bit of frustration from a number of games that we let slip when we were right in contention.
“Certainly looking back on the season, we think we could have played a bit better.
“If we had done that we might be looking up towards Europe as opposed to where we are now in tenth – it’s quite a fine margin between tenth and seventh and challenging the top six.
“Overall it’s very positive but there is a tinge of frustration in a few games that could have gone differently.”
With top-flight status secured, the Warriors can already begin planning for next season and their fly-half is not afraid to state some lofty ambitions.
“Going into next season we are in a really positive position to look at a few things and go to the next level in the league,” he added.
“We know we are not going to be finishing right at the top, but to be in with a shout of the top six, that’s where we want to be.
“We showed in the first and last part of the season we can perform but in the middle we let ourselves down.
“I think with this squad we can do that, we need to try and be more consistent over the whole season.”
After 19 league starts this season – a breakthrough for the former Bath Rugby fly-half – Heathcote himself admits there is work to be done on his own game.
“I have been really happy with how things have gone for me personally,” he added.
“This season was the first time in my career that I was starting games consistently in the Premiership and to be honest I couldn’t have asked for much more.
“I knew it would be challenging – I had to win the shirt in pre-season and then hold onto it during the season.
“I am delighted to have played so much and I am already looking forward to next season, I feel I have learned so much and am ready to kick on.”
If you want to be at the world's biggest club rugby final, this year's Aviva Premiership Rugby Final is on 28 May at Twickenham, tickets are available from premiershiprugby.com/final.