Get involved! Send your photos, video, news & views by texting EJ NEWS to 80360 or e-mail us
Northampton Saints 42 Worcester Warriors 14
THE summer of 2012 will without doubt be the most important period in the modern history of Worcester Warriors.
To say the club are at a turning point is a massive understatement and what happens between now and the start of the 2012/13 campaign will go a long way to defining if Worcester can finally make the long-talked-about step up to the next level.
Phil Larder’s arrival has worked wonders with Warriors’ defence, but they cannot even begin to think about climbing the ladder with an attacking set-up as toothless as they have had this term.
Just 23 tries in 22 games and the lowest points tally of any of the 12 top-flight teams tells its own story.
In fairness, head coach Richard Hill has always maintained he would get Worcester’s defence right as his number one priority which, courtesy of Larder, he has certainly delivered, but the team is crying out for an attack coach to get them firing.
Recruitment is well under way to fill this key role and the new man will arguably be the club’s most important recruit of the summer.
However, Worcester weren’t planning on having a Phil Davies-shaped spanner thrown into the Sixways works. As soon as Cardiff Blues approached Hill’s right-hand man to become their new director of rugby, there was no chance Warriors would keep hold of their forwards coach.
Although Davies has been a well-respected figure during his two-year tenure at Warriors, there remain huge question marks over Worcester’s set-piece.
Maybe Davies’ departure isn’t such a bad thing after all as, given the recent performances up front, the Warriors line-out and scrum are crying out for some fresh ideas to restore them to their former glories.
Against Northampton, the line-out, which was single-handedly dismantled by Saints’ 23-year-old back-rower James Craig, was nothing short of an embarrassment and the scrum, albeit consisting of a second string front row, was little better.
But, between now and the start of next season, there is not a lot of time to conduct a massive overhaul of your coaching staff, let alone integrate a vast swathe of new players.
However, if — and it’s a big ‘if’ — Hill can successfully oversee this mammoth task, Warriors could realistically approach next term with genuine top-six claims.
It is certainly not all doom and gloom at Sixways, though, as the 2012/13 squad looks to be the club’s strongest ever and, with a couple of shrewd additions to the backroom team, Cecil Duckworth’s Heineken Cup dream could be that bit closer to becoming a reality.