A PICTURE of Miles Benjamin hangs alongside other past Worcester Warriors greats in the Centurions Lounge at Sixways.

It is there to capture a moment in Warriors’ history and as a mark of respect to Benjamin who was once a shining light in blue and gold.

But while a photo in the East Stand might be a nice gesture co-owner Jason Whittingham stressed the importance of continuing to offer support to ex-players.

A product of Warriors’ academy, Benjamin racked up 300 points in more than 100 appearances for the club.

With international rugby on the horizon, Benjamin opted to depart Worcester in 2012 after securing a move to 10-time English champions Leicester Tigers.

But Benjamin sustained a serious neck injury in his first game for Tigers before a persistent knee issue forced him to hang up his boots at the age of 27 in 2016.

It was a sorry way for Benjamin to bow out yet Whittingham discovered that Warriors’ previous incumbents had not reached out to him since leaving “under a dark cloud” seven years ago.

“Miles is a best friend of a business contact of mine from years ago,” Whittingham said.

“Miles had not been contacted by the club since he left.

“He went to Leicester, got injured and that was the end of his career.

“He has played more than 100 games (for Warriors), scored over 300 points so why is he just a picture on the wall?

“Why is he never in and around the club?

“I had a chat to Miles and he was over the moon to be able to come back.”

Whittingham who arrived at Warriors in October last year along with co-owner Colin Goldring felt the club had an “obligation” to keep in touch with their former stars.

“Jonny (Arr) went away and licked his wounds for three months before reaching out to Colin and I saying can he come and see us,” Whittingham said.

“We said ‘Of course you can’.

“There is always this natural draw back to the club, but the previous owners almost didn’t connect with that, didn’t feel the need for it.

“But from our point of view, there is an obligation to look after players.

“If these players are not in and around the club it gives the impression that we don’t care about them, but we genuinely do.

“We want to help them when they finish but also make them still feel like they are attached to the club.”

Benjamin, 31, is among hundreds of players that have turned out in Worcester colours since the game turned professional in 1996.

Ex-Warriors wing Nick Baxter has included them in an extensive database as part of the newly-launched ambassador programme that aims to get Warriors old boys involved in matchday activities.

“It’s not something that we were asked to do, it’s something that we had thoughts about doing as there was no nod to the past other than pictures on the wall,” Whittingham said.

“Other clubs have lounges where past players go in and mix with the community and fans.

“There was none of that going on here and we had always heard that previous owners had not always been good at keeping engaged with players once they had gone.

“It was something we very much wanted to do as part of our obligation to players.”

Baxter will be joined by locks Steve Lloyd and Craig Gillies, scrum-half Matt Powell and centre Alex Grove as lead ambassadors. The activities that they will be involved in will not only increase fan engagement at Sixways but the money raised will go into a charitable trust which ex-players and their families can access.

“What the ambassadors will do is put on events to help us raise money,” Whittingham said.

“We are currently in the process of setting up a charitable trust.

“That is there to help past players who may have fallen on hard times.

“Ollie Lawrence almost had career-ending injury last year at 19 years old.

“Had the injury ended his career and the trust had been in place then we would have made a donation to him to support him until he got back on his feet.”

Warriors already helps current squad members gain qualifications and work placements under the tutelage of education officer Lynette Cutting.

And Whittingham said they were keen to offer players financial and mental support in times of need or crisis.

“Someone like Miles possibly left under a dark cloud and that’s not right as the guy put himself out there weekend after weekend,” Whittingham added.

“Had the charitable trust been in place we would have tried to do something to support him.

“But it’s not always financial as it’s about mental support too.

“We have a good in-house player welfare with Lynette.

“She does good work with the players while they are at the club and part of the ambassadors initiative is make sure we continue that when they are no longer here.”