WORCESTER Warriors chief Gary Gold is “hopeful” of extending fly-half Jono Lance’s deal until the end of the season.

The Australian playmaker is due to join up with Melbourne Rebels at the start of next month to prepare for the new Super Rugby season which begins in February.

But Gold revealed talks were underway with Rebels and Lance as the Aviva Premiership club look to retain his services for the second half of the campaign.

Warriors boss also admitted his efforts to keep hold of Lance have been heightened by Tom Heathcote’s struggles to overcome concussion.

The Scottish stand-off who has suffered a series of blows to the head in the last 12 months is not expected to be back until April and will have a “specialist review” in March.

“We are in negotiations and asking the question to see what the landscape is like, so we are hopeful,” said Gold on the prospect of keeping Lance.

“But I can’t say anymore than that.

“If it were possible and it worked for both parties then we would look to hold onto him until the end of the season.”

Jamie Shillcock, 20, has recently recovered from knee surgery and Sam Olver, 23, has been in fine form.

But Gold insisted Warriors needed Lance, 27, on board to provide further competition for the number 10 shirt.

“After we lost Tommy we looked for Jono because we needed strength in depth,” Gold said.

“At the time Jamie was also injured.

“It was an area we were looking at during the summer as well, so it was even more of a problem when we lost an experienced player like Tommy.

“His care is of paramount importance to us and at this moment in time he has been ruled out for another couple of months.

“That’s the reason why we need the cover in Jono.”

Lance has made a big impact since arriving at Sixways on a short-term contract in early October. The ex-Western Force ace has featured seven times and produced a man-of-the-match performance in their 41-35 defeat at Harlequins.

He is also expected to start in Warriors’ much-anticipated league clash against bottom club London Irish on Friday (7.45pm).

“He’s got an older head having played a lot of Super Rugby down in Australia,” Gold added.

“Like most Australian rugby players he has got a great skill set with a beautiful passing game and is really good at taking the ball to the line.

“He has got an Australian swagger about him which has a calming effect and makes a difference to the players around him.

“He likes the way we want to try to play the game by moving the ball around and scoring tries, so he is very valuable to us.