PHASE one of Worcester’s pre-season training routine has been ‘the best programme I have seen since I’ve been here’, according to head coach Richard Hill.

The Warriors players were the first of all 12 Aviva Premiership clubs to begin their preparations for the 2012-13 campaign and Hill believes the hard work will pay dividends come the new season.

As well as plenty of gruelling strength and conditioning work in the gym at Sixways, the squad members have embarked on a varied range of training scenarios.

These have included an energy-sapping session built around a series of hill sprints on the steep slopes at the King George V playing fields in Brickfields, Worcester.

The main fitness work is nearly done now, though, and rugby-orientated training sessions will be integrated into the schedule next week.

Hill explained: “I’ve been delighted by the attitude and commitment throughout the first three weeks.

“You can always tell by the mood of the strength and conditioning staff and they are good.

“A huge amount of effort has gone into pre-season and it’s the best programme I have seen since I’ve been here.

“Each year the backroom team improve what we do to prepare the squad and this year is no different.

“The players are working exceptionally hard — they are hanging in there as it has been a brutal first three weeks. The strength and conditioning team have pushed them to the edge, but not over it.

“The players are hurting but there is still humour in the squad and that is always a good sign that they are not only benefiting from this period but also enjoying being at Warriors and where we are going.

“They have been given a longer break this weekend and then they will be back in for phase two when the rugby starts to be introduced.

“I know they are keen to get their hands on the ball.”

With Worcester’s new coaches having signed contracts beginning on July 1, next week will be the first time the squad works with all of the new staff.

Forwards coach Nigel Redman and his number two Phil Vickery are keen to get to grips with the Warriors pack, while defence coach Phil Larder will again be making sure the players are well-drilled.

But perhaps the most exciting addition to the Sixways backroom team is Mathieu Rourre, the Biarritz-based attack coach, who will be working, like Larder, on a part-time basis with Warriors.

The Frenchman will also be at Sixways next week after the three-day summit in south France with Hill and Larder when the trio began to hammer out Warriors’ attacking strategy for the coming season.