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Derby joy would be catalyst says Ryan
8:40am Wednesday 18th December 2013 in Sport By Steve Carley - Midlands Sports Journalist of the Year 2013, @stevecarleyWN
DIRECTOR of rugby Dean Ryan says beating Gloucester could be the catalyst Worcester Warriors need to fire them off the bottom of the Aviva Premiership.
The sides meet at Kingsholm on Sunday for one of the most eagerly-anticipated derbies in recent seasons.
With winless Warriors rooted to the foot of the table and the Cherry and Whites having just two victories to their name, there is plenty at stake for both teams.
But Ryan feels his players are continuing to make progress — he was impressed with their character in the Amlin Challenge Cup defeats against Biarritz, particularly given the travelling issues to France last week — and knows how crucial breaking their duck against their arch-rivals could be.
He said: “Winning would be a huge lift and I think it would just be a catalyst for the progress we are making.
“If the players can’t get that win then that’s something they get hit round the head with and that undermines the things you feel you are progressing in.
“You can’t hide from the fact that once we get it, it could just be a switch for us because we’re starting to be competitive.
“That sort of level week in, week out, is a big challenge for us and we’re starting to get the sort of environment that enables us to do that.
“We have got a big new year coming and we’re going to have to work really hard but if we can do it with a win, in the back pocket it would be a big help.”
He continued: “We’re two wins off the other opposition. The moment we get one win suddenly the pressure flicks the other way.
“We’re living with the pressure, the others feel they’ve got their heads above water. If we win one game then they start to shake a bit.”
Wing Dean Hammond has joined the Warriors casualty list after injuring his shoulder early on in the 33-25 defeat at Biarritz but is not expected to be missing for too long.
But the Worcester chief is set to make a host of changes from the French trip and reckons he has the squad strength to do so.
Ryan said: “In most positions we’re starting to get a competitive group and that’s what successful squads are about.
“That’s the most pleasing thing of the back-to-back games against Biarritz, 26 players went head-to-head with a reasonable side.”
He added: “Biarritz are not in great form, let’s not pretend they are, but they have been improving in recent weeks.
“That’s a good indicator that our group of players are starting to really make movement here.”
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