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Van Velze: young Warriors ready for Aviva Premiership Rugby challenge

Original Filename: FOS13510

Worcester Warriors captain GJ van Velze insists his side will be sticking to the winning formula that earned them their spot in the Aviva Premiership Rugby this season.

The versatile number eight was handed the captain's armband in his debut campaign at Sixways last term, leading Warriors back to the top flight at the first time of asking – scoring five tries in 23 appearances.

The new boys face a tough test when the season begins next weekend, welcoming a Northampton Saints side desperate to regain the Aviva Premiership Rugby crown after the 2013/14 champions narrowly lost out to Saracens in last season’s semi-finals.

But with the clash finally looming after a long summer of preparation, van Velze is adamant that overhauling the squad was not the answer and that Worcester will put faith in their young guns once again.

“It’s been an extremely long preseason, but the boys have been working very hard and we’ve got quite a few new faces at the club which has been good to see,” he said.

“We just want to get going next week now. It’s extremely exciting to know that all of the hard work that’s been done out of the spotlight will be rewarded when we get the opportunity to play again in the Premiership.

“We’re quite a young squad, and quite a few of those younger members want to prove a point at this level, so words can’t express how excited we are to get started.

“We’re an interesting squad together, but we made that formula work last year and we’ll be sticking to it.

“It can both ways for the younger guys, as of course there is always the fear of the unknown to some extent, but the reason we play this game is to play at the top stage.

“So all the youngsters need to do is go out there and play with a bit of self-belief which in turn will create a lot of confidence. They’ve earned their chance to have a go at it.”

As well as nurturing their own youngsters, the Warriors have welcomed the likes of Donncha O'Callaghan, Phil Dowson and Wynand Olivier over the summer.

And van Velze believes having their experience will help the squad adapt to the pressures of playing in the Aviva Premiership Rugby in the coming months.

He added: “If you’ve a younger squad like we have and you’ve got the likes of Donncha O'Callaghan, Phil Dowson and Wynand Olivier coming in, they have so much experience to thrive off.

“When it comes to the structures of the week and then the way we play at a weekend, they are always people that can put their arm around the others.

“So from my point of view you can’t value how good they are going to be for the club.”

The 2015-16 Aviva Premiership Rugby Season kicks off on 16 October. To see all of the fixtures click here.

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