DEAN Ryan has branded Warriors’ forthcoming return to Aviva Premiership action as “the biggest challenge of our lives”.
Worcester finally ended an 11-match losing streak at Sixways with a confidence-boosting 20-13 victory over Oyonnax to bring the curtain down on their Amlin Challenge Cup campaign.
The director of rugby now takes his squad out to Portugal this week for a warm-weather training camp in a bid to rejuvenate the team ahead of a do-or-die second half of the league campaign.
Before the return to Premiership action, Warriors have two LV= Cup matches – starting at Sale on Saturday – and Ryan is eager to build on the momentum gained from the much-needed win.
He said: “We have a big week of training coming up now, before two LV= Cup games and then the biggest challenge of our lives, so we need to make sure we’re in the right space to take it on.
“You have to be careful with these cup games, but the last LV match is certainly something we will look to get some momentum going as a side and that will reflect more of what we’re likely to go with against Leicester.
“We’ll now work hard in Portugal this week. There is a danger of people saying ‘oh, you’re off on holiday’.
If England or Leicester went away for warm-weather training, it would be seen as being professional.
“Well, we’re very professional too and they will be working hard, but we will also have a bit of relaxation too – it’s all about getting into a different environment and we can take stock of where we are.
“It is the right decision by the club to do it and anyone who is under the illusion that this is an easy place to be is wrong – it’s a tough place to be, but you get reward out of it.”
Ryan was delighted to see his side finally end their home hoodoo – a dismal run that stretched back to March last year.
He added: “Our losing run was becoming mental, you could see that. How many times did it happen?
Biarritz, twice – how many times have we been in the last 10 minutes of games and looked a little lost?
“There were elements of that against Oyonnax, but we are not a side that will be beating the likes of Saracens 35-0, so those last 10 minutes will be crucial in all games.
“Life’s a lot easier when you win, we all know that. The things we did wrong against Oyonnax are a little bit easier to talk about when you have won the game.
“I’m just pleased we were able to tough out a win and move forward, because we’re going to have to tough a few more out this season.”
Meanwhile, Warriors flanker Jake Abbott has been announced as Acorns Children’s Hospice’s new player ambassador.
The 25-year-old Worcester-based player has been involved with the club for nearly 20 years and is in his sixth season in the back-row, but is now embarking on another venture.