FORMER Warriors favourite Kai Horstmann believes Sixways director of rugby Dean Ryan will have a long-term job on his hands to resurrect the down-trodden club.
The Exeter number eight spent seven years as a Worcester player, before surprisingly not being offered a new deal by then-head coach Richard Hill in 2012.
Horstmann’s skills were clearly appreciated elsewhere, though, and he was snapped up by the Chiefs and has gone on to become an important player for them in two seasons at Sandy Park.
In stark contrast to perennially scrapping away at the foot of the Aviva Premiership during his Worcester career, Horstmann has enjoyed a new lease of life with the impressive Exeter outfit, culminating in this season’s LV= Cup triumph.
Horstmann stood by Worcester in the Championship after their previous relegation and scored a dramatic injury-time try in the play-off semi-final against Bedford Blues to keep the promotion bid on track.
Although Warriors’ Premiership status is currently hanging by a thread and another season in the second tier looks unavoidable, Horstmann believes director of rugby Ryan can be the man to finally bring success to Sixways.
However, the 32-year-old former England Saxons insists it will be a long process as Ryan is pretty much starting from scratch because Warriors’ once-profitable academy system was all-but-scrapped during Hill’s tenure. Ever-diplomatic, Horstmann described that move as ‘not a great decision’.
“The academy at Worcester was absolutely fantastic and it produced some superb players, but the club weren’t able to hold onto them,” he said.
“You have to get the first part right, which is finding the talent and bringing them through the system, but because Worcester scrapped their academy it will take time to rebuild those vital relationships with schools and clubs.
“Many talented youngsters will have started out in the area, but gone on to play elsewhere because of what happened to Worcester’s academy.
“As soon as Worcester have a system back in place and talented youngsters coming through it, then they will be able to start to move on.
“Going back to Exeter, our academy system is absolutely unbelievable and that is what we have been able to build on.
“I have been away for a few years now, but I really can see Warriors moving forward under Dean. Everyone wants automatic success, but he needs time to get things done how he wants them.”
Reflecting on his release by Warriors, Horstmann admits he was ‘bewildered’ by the decision, but insists the move couldn’t have worked out better for him and his family.
He added: “When I found out I would be leaving Warriors, it did come out of the blue. I was enjoying myself at Worcester but, looking back, it has been a great move for me – both professionally and personally as my wife is from this part of the world.
“I look back on my time at Worcester very fondly, but I never want to be a player who becomes bitter about things that happen to you.
“Sometimes things happen and you can focus on them, but that doesn’t achieve anything. At the time I found out Warriors were not offering me a new contract, I was bewildered by the decision.
“However, it is a different mind-set down here and I absolutely love it. I just wish I was an 18 or 19-year-old again and coming into the system here – I can’t think of a better environment to start out in as they really look after you.”