LONG-serving scrum-half Jonny Arr admits he was tempted to join the ever-increasing ranks of Warriors academy products to quit the club.
The former Royal Grammar School Worcester pupil came through the Warriors age groups with the likes of Matt Mullan, Graham Kitchener, Joe Carlisle, Tom Wood and Matt Kvesic, who have all opted to further their careers away from Sixways.
Despite still being just 25-years-old, Arr has made more appearances for the club (141) than anyone else in the current squad and was persuaded to put pen-to-paper on an extended contract in February.
Having invested so much hard work and dedication into the club throughout his career so far, Arr couldn’t stand the prospect of walking away only to have regrets in the future when Dean Ryan’s long-term plan begins to bear fruit.
With Arr, he’s happy to suffer short-term pain for long-term gain, even if that means another painful season in the second tier of English rugby, which looks unavoidable following Friday’s 13-11 loss to Wasps.
“I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t think ‘should I stay or leave’,” the loyal number nine admitted. “I have always lived in this city and have played for the Warriors for close to seven years, so it was purely a natural progression and whether it was time to try something new.
“That was the only thought I had in my head about moving and I was honest with Dean. We chatted that through, he understood but, ultimately, with the long-term plans that are laid out here, I couldn’t have walked away.
“To have left and looked back from the outside to see Worcester succeeding and pushing on over the next few years would have been quite disappointing.
“The players I came through the academy with here but have left and gone on to good things at other clubs was in the back of my mind.
“The likes of Matty Mullan last year decided that he had been here for eight or nine seasons and it was probably time for him to have a change.
“However, the grass isn’t always greener and I have done a fair amount of hard graft here to get into the position I am in now, so to throw that all away with no guarantees I’d go on and be any more successful anywhere else was all part of why I chose to stay in the end.”
Going forward, Arr believes the club has a core of talented young players in place that director of rugby Ryan can build a successful side around.
The likes of Arr, Jake Abbott, Chris Pennell and Alex Grove have hundreds of games worth of Warriors experience between them and can play a big part in the right culture being developed at Sixways, which is a key factor for Ryan’s rebuilding of the squad.
Arr added: “Now, a lot of our senior players are still young – around 25 or 26 – and have been around this club for a long time, so it’s great to have an experienced core group that know the club inside out.
“To bring in other players around that age, and even younger, and bleed them in when you can is a great blueprint for success moving forward.
“This place is massively different now to what it was at the start of the season. Back then, there was a huge turn-over of players, coupled with a complete change of the coaching and back room staff.
“Everyone was learning new things and, at the start of the season, we weren’t getting it right but, as the season has progressed, players have really responded to what the coaches have put out there.
“The new coaching techniques and philosophies they have been trying to put out there all year are becoming second nature to us now, so it then becomes a matter of just putting huge amounts of passion and commitment into the performances on the pitch.
“If you look at the performances throughout the year, across the board we have improved no end, but we have just come unstuck with narrow losses.”