STAR man Chris Pennell will definitely be staying with Worcester next season despite relegation from the Aviva Premiership, Warriors boss Dean Ryan has insisted.
Premiership player-of-the-year nominee Pennell has produced stellar form during a woeful season for the Sixways club and must be on the England selectors’ radar.
However, he is unlikely to win a dream call-up to the England squad for next year’s World Cup if he is plying his trade in the second tier.
The 27-year-old had been linked to a potential loan move back to the Premiership if Worcester were relegated, but Sixways director of rugby Ryan was quick to quash the rumours.
Ryan said: “Of course Chris can play in the Championship next season. Why wouldn’t he? He should be playing for England, but his club’s in the Championship, so he will be playing in the Championship.
“He is one of the most driven people about making sure this place becomes a successful environment.”
In the wake of the six-try defeat to Saracens that sealed their fate, the Warriors boss added: “If we had survived , it would have been tough because this club has to change – it has to develop and go about its business in a different way.
“People have to come here because it’s their club and not a stepping stone or retirement home and we have to make sure that happens.
“We are in the Championship now and that will drive us on because it is going to hurt. There are some big players in our changing room and egos and humility will be hurt. That has to be a driver to make sure we come back to this level.
“We are going to try to grow a proper club – one that wants to work hard, puts the proper resources in the right area and trusts its academy so we can not just get back to this level, but continue to grow.”
Ryan continued: “My message to our fans is that they have been fantastic throughout. We have said that we have to get players who can show how much they care for Worcester, then people will come along and support us – it is a simple relationship of watching sport.
“Sometimes there is a gap in class, but we can’t solve that until we start growing our own players and bringing them through.
“To try to save our season at Saracens was always going to be asking a lot. The gap in power, pace and physicality was quite clear.
“We were spirited and we worked really hard to stay together, because every time we got close you could see Sarries change up a gear and they probably had a few more left.
“What we have been getting wrong is that we have not been getting a group that is even moving towards being competitive there and that is part of the challenge.
“There are 25 people who we have been working with for the last couple of months that I am incredibly proud of.
“It is tough for them, because while it is still mathematically possible to stay up, you can hope, but that has gone now.”