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Young guns to fire insists Johnston
HIGH performance director Nick Johnston will promote youngsters in the Warriors system wherever possible.
During his successful stint with Northampton Saints, Johnston’s philosophy was centred around developing the up-and-coming talent at Franklin’s Gardens.
Generating their own homegrown stars will be key to Warriors’ revival under Dean Ryan and will be a massive bonus for the club in the future.
“Because the bottom layer of Northampton’s squad is filled by inexpensive, home-grown players, that’s why they can afford George North,” explained Johnston, who began his Sixways role on December 1. “That will be a big part of my role and kids will get their chance without a doubt.
“The coaching team’s philosophy is to develop youth. It’s about building that and making it a much broader programme that people have access to.
“When Northampton Saints were here recently, there were eight or nine that had come through the academy system in the first team squad.”
Recalling how he integrated youngsters at Saints, Johnston added: “We just trained players in positional groups at Northampton.
“If you have got Tom Wood and Calum Clark on a lifting platform together, it’s a hell of a competition and the only outcome is a good one.
“You put two academy kids with them as role models and they go through the roof and the culture becomes ingrained in them.
“Your culture becomes ingrained when you bring your 16 to 17-year-olds into your structure and they understand why they are doing it.
“You have to protect young kids, that’s a big thing for me. This sport and this country is very good at burning out young talent.
“We have got to nurture that talent and allow it to develop and then express itself at the weekend.”
Johnston’s role with Warriors will encompass strength and conditioning, fitness, exercise medicine, exercise science and the academy structures, as well as building important relationships in the region.
He added: “I’ll be working with local institutions, local rugby clubs and passing some information and help to them along the way, then the buy-in from the local region is massive.
“Your fanbase comes from that, your sponsors come from that and we need to be seen as a community club, giving to the community and not just taking.
“It’s about getting the talent out of this area, playing and putting a Worcester shirt on at the weekend, not going somewhere else in the Premiership as they all seem to do.”