DIRECTOR of rugby Dean Ryan says his players are desperate to kick-off their Aviva Premiership campaign against Northampton Saints at Sixways on Friday (7.45pm).
Warriors returned to England’s top table at the first attempt after a heart-stopping 59-58 aggregate triumph against Bristol in a remarkable Championship play-off final in May.
Now, after an extended preseason due to the World Cup, the day of reckoning for Ryan’s squad is approaching.
“We are ready and desperate to get going because it feels like a long wait for it,” said Ryan.
“With the World Cup in full swing, it’s another thing which has illustrated we have not been playing competitively.
“Facing Northampton, in front of the television cameras and under the lights at Sixways to start the Premiership season is fantastic.
“I think we are all really excited about it. You can’t wish for something like getting to the top tier and then not get excited about it when it arrives.
“A lot of our lads came from places where they didn’t play regularly and had been told they weren’t going to make it.
“The fact they have taken this club to the point of the Premiership means they are going to enjoy it.
“Not everything will be perfect for the Northampton game. It’s going to be a long year and it’s not going to be defined by what we do on our first night.”
Ryan and his staff have brought in a host of new faces over the summer, including former Northampton favourite Phil Dowson, Munster legend Donncha O’Callaghan, South African centre Wynand Olivier and giant lock Tevita Cavubati, who has been starring for Fiji at the World Cup.
But Warriors have also seen established players depart such as Argentina duo Gus Creevy and Leonardo Senatore, while Jonathan Thomas has retired from the sport since their Championship promotion success.
Ryan said: “This team isn’t about seeing whether we can survive in the Premiership, it’s seeing if we can do ourselves justice.
“If we keep maintaining the strands of wanting to enjoy ourselves, realising it’s our big opportunity and making sure we keep coming back to square one and learning what we can do better, we will be OK.
“I think we have made significant strides on the type of person who is now at the club.
“That’s fundamentally the main change since we were last in the Premiership.
“I don’t think the club had anything to learn other than manage itself through change.
“We were in a dead end with too many people here for the wrong reasons and were never going to get any better.
“Now we don’t resemble anything to do with that squad.
“We are working very hard to make sure we have a decent framework that allows us to compete in the Premiership and develop youngsters.
“We are an ambitious group and there are a lot of people who want to play in the Premiership, and they need this to get better and for their own careers to kick-start.”
Ryan says he’s pleased with the additions to his squad over the summer and believes Worcester’s patience has paid off.
“We haven’t panicked over the summer or rushed to try to find people and Donncha is a classic case.
“We won’t just stack people in for the sake of it.
“When you look at our summer activities with Wynand Olivier, Donncha O’Callaghan, Marco Mamo and Tevita Cavubati, it looks alright.
“We were faced with the challenge of the June window and we have stayed true to our ethos.
“I am happy and we will always look to strengthen the squad. If there are others that we think fit the bill then we act the same and try to bring them in.”
He added: “The key thing for us is to maintain our excitement during the season when things don’t go well, stay excited, learn some lessons and make sure we get ready to go again.”