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“It’s like I have joined a new club” — Pennell
DESPITE having been part of the Sixways fixtures and fittings for nearly a decade, man of the moment Chris Pennell insists the Dean Ryan era makes him feel like he has joined an entirely new club.
Having progressed through the Worcester academy system while still at Oldswinford Hospital School, the on-song full-back burst onto the first team scene back in the 2007-08 season.
There have been highs and lows along the way, but even a catalogue of serious injury problems have not been able to prevent him racking up over 100 appearances for his home-town club.
Pennell said: “As players, you get used to there being quite big changes to the squad each year as numbers come and go, but if you combine that with such a vast change on the coaching side as well, it is a completely different place and the atmosphere is completely different.
“I have been here a long time, but for me it feels like I am at a new club without the hassle of having to move house! I get to play rugby on the same pitch, but everything else is hugely different.”
Director of rugby Ryan has a no-nonsense reputation and is renowned as a hard taskmaster, but Pennell revealed there is room for enjoyment too.
He explained: “Dean has certainly got the ability to be light-hearted, but there are certain things that are non-negotiables with him. Things that he expects from us as professional rugby players and as men.
“As long as you tick those boxes, then there is certainly a lot of room to have those jovial situations.
“You know exactly where you stand too, which I think is a very empowering position to be in and it is also quite refreshing and something I’ve not experienced as a pro so far in my career.”
On his impressive form this term, Pennell added: “Being out there week in, week out and staying fit has helped with my form, but the input from the new coaches and the slightly different ways I am looking at things, which is also from their influence, is having a really positive impact on my game.
“I am certainly looking at what we can achieve here and I want to be a part of that and I realise that if I start consistently performing at the top level and we start moving up the table as a team, then hopefully I’ll start being banded about in conversations elsewhere and I’ll always have the ambition to play for my country.“
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