JONATHAN Thomas has been surprised by the amount of flair and attacking rugby in England’s second tier.

The Worcester Warriors forward admits he wrongly assumed the Greene King IPA Championship would be filled with attritional rugby.

“My misconception of the Championship was that it would be a forwardorientated league,” said Thomas, who skippered Warriors in their relegation from the Premiership.

“I don’t know why I thought that, I just assumed it.

“But most of the sides we have met have played some really good rugby.

“Teams like Jersey and Yorkshire Carnegie have shown a lot of fair. There is some really good rugby at this level.”

Thomas has also noticed differences between the two divisions.

“When you go up a level it’s just a little bit more ruthless and the pace and physicality of the game goes up a notch,” recalled Thomas.

“The budgets also go up in the Premiership which allows some teams to bring in some more X-Factor type players.

“I think in Premiership rugby you get punished for any mistakes that you make.

“In the Championship there are certain games when you can make a few mistakes but you wouldn’t be given second chances in the Premiership — you just get punished and blown away.

“You are allowed to make more mistakes in this league and that is something we have kept referencing.

“Sometimes you can win a game by 30 points but the important thing for us is to keep referencing Premiership standards.”

Warriors have won 18 successive matches at first-team level since their last-gasp opening day defeat against promotion rivals Bristol at Ashton Gate.

“We are definitely in a much better place, as a club, than where we were 12 months ago,” said Thomas.

“It’s very difficult to predict the future but the way it’s looking, potentially, it’s going to be between us and Bristol.

“That’s going to be like cup final rugby and anything can happen in cup final rugby. I am not going to make any bold predictions but we are in a good place as a club.

“We can’t drop off at all. The elephant in the room is always the play-offs and you can’t just sit back and think we’ll rock up at the play-offs and try and play well.

“It’s really important to progress as a club and improve every week and learn.

I think we are in a good place and we can get better and there’s a lot of rugby to be played”.

Thomas has overcome a bad calf injury which kept him out of action until Warriors’ narrow 32-29 win against Jersey at Sixways.

“I think there has been a real step change since we played at London Scottish,” said Thomas.

“Up until that point I think we had been going OK but we had been playing in fits and we had sometimes been lowering ourselves to other team’s levels.

“In recent weeks I think we have gone up a gear in terms of the way we’ve played and, that together, with depth, stands us in good stead.

“We knew that we had to play well to win two games over the Christmas period — so that gave us a real boost and we have continued to improve from there.

“Our intent and intensity has improved and we blew away Cornish Pirates and Moseley in the first 30 minutes and that’s what we have to continue to do.”

The former Wales international pledged his future to Warriors last week after agreeing a new two-year deal and is determined to get the club back into the Premiership.

“The goal is to get back into the Premiership and then to make a better go of it the next time.

“There is a lot of competition, particularly in the back-row and my goal is to play well and, as a senior player, to set a good example."