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Ryan serves up a dose of Sixways realism
4:00pm Thursday 5th September 2013 in Sport By Steve Carley - Midlands Sports Journalist of the Year 2013, @stevecarleyWN
THIS is the season Worcester Warriors are finally going to deliver.
It’s a statement fans have heard many times.
When Mike Ruddock was brought in as director of rugby in 2007 with the remit of making Warriors a force in the Premiership.
Three years and several marquee signings later they were relegated from the top-flight of English rugby.
Richard Hill arrived at Sixways as head coach to salvage the wreckage in 2010 and won promotion from the Championship in his first season.
The former England scrum-half began to stamp his mark on the club, overseeing a major overhaul of the backroom staff in a bid to leave no stone unturned in the pursuit of success.
But a 10th-placed finish in Warriors’ first season back at the top table, followed by the wholly disappointing 11th last season, brought Hill’s tenure to an end.
Now the baton has passed to Dean Ryan and, this Sunday, Warriors will finally get their eagerly-awaited campaign off and running at defending champions Leicester Tigers.
So, will Warriors be any better under Ryan than they were under Hill or Ruddock, pictured right?
Well, cynics might say they can’t be much worse. To quote an 80s record, the only way is up.
Crucially, however, there is one key difference from what has gone before, and that’s the rhetoric eminating from Sixways.
Bold statements targeting European rugby and establishing themselves in the top six are notable by their absence.
Instead, Ryan has been realistic. He admits Warriors don’t have the best players in the league nor the strength in depth.
To paraphrase the former Gloucester chief, what Worcester don’t have in ability, they are going to have to make up for in commitment.
That said, there is some talent and experience in the squad, not least in the form of new captain Jonathan Thomas.
Although Ryan would obviously accept a finish in the upper echelons of the table, it seems he has been careful not to make any wild predictions.
Nor for that matter has new chief executive Charles Cameron.
With Worcester reverting to the director of rugby role, there is also an emphasis on building for a sustainable future from the bottom up rather than short-term success.
Fans might not like to hear it but perhaps they have been promised too much, too soon in the past. Promises that were always going to be tough to deliver.
As ever, there is an air of excitement going into the new season, a sense of taking a step into the unknown, but this time the level of expectation is not quite so high.
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