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Ryan now sees the light from ‘black hole’
9:00am Friday 13th December 2013 in Sport
THERE are encouraging signs of life developing in Warriors’ ‘black hole’ of an academy system, according to Sixways chief Dean Ryan.
Since taking the helm at Worcester, the former Gloucester director of rugby has often spoken about his shock at discovering the depths to which the club’s youth set-up slumped to.
However, there are glimmers of hope for the future with several homegrown players catching the eye and other youthful imports settling in, as well as talk of other clubs’ hot prospects being recruited.
Ryan has insisted it will take up to five years for the academy system to be fully rebuilt, but the likes of Max Stelling, who has been training with England under 20s, and former King’s School Worcester duo George de Cothi and Andrew Boyce have given the Warriors director of rugby cause for optimism.
Ryan has also brought in the likes of Dean Hammond, Nick Seymour and Andy Symons, while there has been speculation Leicester Tigers duo Henry Purdy and George Catchpole are on Worcester’s recruitment radar.
In addition to this, newly-recruited high performance director Nick Johnston will be charged with repairing community links to give Warriors the best possible chance of discovering the cream of talent across the Midlands.
“I don’t think the academy is necessarily something you move quickly,” Ryan admitted. “The concern with the academy here is that there isn’t one.
“We’ve got behind everyone else at a time when we want developing our own players to be the centre of any future.
“Having the best people around doing it is really important. You can’t fill the black hole that having an unproductive academy for the last two or three years has created, but we can ensure it never happens again and that is the level of confidence we need.
“It is a massive undertaking from the shareholders and the board to say. We have to get back to putting developing our own players to the centre of the success of this club going forward’.
“I don’t think there is an abundance of people out there, but we are targeting players that we have seen in the ‘A’ League.”
Ryan added: “Christian Scotland-Williamson was someone who came in during the LV= Cup and he is an example of the sort of individuals we already have on the radar. We’d like to add some more to it and that is ongoing.
“The restrictions on talking to anybody are in place until the new year, so those sort of things won’t be happening until January, February and March unravel. George de Cothi is not registered for the Amlin Cup, but I would like to get him on.
“He is one of those young fellas I’ve been really impressed with and he is now training full-time with the squad.
“Some of the academy are involved less regularly, then there is a group of players, including George, who are involved on a full-time basis.
“He was promoted up to that group after some of his early ‘A’ League performances, he trains all the time with us and is a constant threat to everybody at that level. We have a great prospect in George, now we just have to manage his playing programme.
“Going from a space that was a black hole three or four months ago, the names are there now.
“Max is training with the England under 20s and two or three months ago he wasn’t on anyone’s radar.
“That is exactly the sort of opportunity and progress we have to keep working at.”