“EVERY game is huge for us now”. That is Dean Ryan’s win-at-all-costs mentality as he prepares to lead Warriors into arguably the biggest four months in the club’s history.
The Sixways director of rugby needs to somehow inspire a miraculous ‘Great Escape’ if Worcester are to have any hope of reeling in either Newcastle Falcons or London Irish at the foot of the Aviva Premiership.
Exeter Chiefs visit Worcester on Saturday for the final game of Ryan’s LV= Cup campaign and the Warriors chief will recall his main men in preparation for the return to league action seven days later.
The former England number eight will name a strong side to tackle the Chiefs, but admits he won’t risk anyone who is not 100 per cent fit, while centre Alex Grove will miss the game due to being on international duty with Scotland ‘A’, who face England Saxons in Glasgow.
Ryan said: “Cam Goodhue picked up a bit of a ‘stinger’ to his neck at Sale and we will assess that this week. We don’t want any injuries, but we tailored selection to make sure we have our best chance of having as many of our senior players ready to go.
“We’ll probably have a change in selection for this week’s LV= game with Exeter and hopefully get some continuity going into the Leicester game.
“All games are huge for us now and we know we have got to do something pretty big. We have to surprise a few people in the Premiership and everything is tailored towards that.”
Ryan added: “Chris Pennell is pretty much nailed down as 15, but Max (Stelling) has played there a bit and playing him there at Sale was a little bit out of necessity with Ben Howard getting injured last week.
“I didn’t want to bring Pens in for that game as I want him fit and ready to roll. It’s quite interesting, though, because a few of the senior group are quite frustrated at not playing lately.
“We only played Grovesy at Sale because he is away with the Scotland ‘A’ team this week and we wanted him to get a game under his belt.
“There are five or six guys who are jumping around – the likes of JT (Jonathan Thomas), Mariano (Galarza) and Pens - who are desperate to play.
“I wouldn’t say it will be as much of a mix of youth and senior guys this weekend – we would like to get some core continuity, so the majority of people will play, but I won’t risk anyone.
“It is key to get the balance right, but if anyone has a knock or a niggle, we won’t risk them against Exeter.”