Worcester Warriors director of rugby and lead consultant Steve Diamond sat down with the media on Tuesday morning, as he discussed his team’s performance over the course of this new year. The one key line being how the ‘Warriors getting beat by less’ is progress in the eyes of Worcester’s stakeholders.
Diamond covered results against Harlequins last weekend, recent departures, the side’s upcoming London Irish match this weekend, and much more. Here’s what he had to say as ‘despite the result’ more progress is being made under his new regime.
Progress made yet 2022 Worcester Warriors can get better
Warriors were beaten at Sixways on Friday night as they fell to a 21-29 defeat to the current Premiership Rugby champions. However, the final score didn’t tell the full story as for the second straight week the Warriors found themselves level at halftime and remained in the game up until the final 13 minutes or so.
On the Harlequins defeat, Diamond said: “There’s a lot to be said for getting it right in the week and you decide, generally, whether your training and game plans gone right how you are at halftime, the last few weeks we’ve been ok at the halftime break”. Despite being level at 14-14 at halftime, the Warriors were outscored by 15 points to seven in the second half. Diamond discussed that falling off tackles was a part of the reason as to why; as well as the team feeling the fatigue that came with the ball being in play during the game ‘more than the league average time’.
He said: “We just had a period in the second half where we fell off tackles, it was a little bit of fatigue, they run us around a little bit. There was 40 minutes of ball in play and the average in the Premiership is 30, so it was 10 minutes more and, we felt that.
“But we just fell off tackles, I thought generally we tried to do really good things with ball-in-hand and the young half-backs played really well. Seb Atkinson played really well but we just fell off on our kick chase and it allowed Harlequins to break the line, put us under pressure and ultimately they scored.”
As observers know, this season isn’t one in which you can judge how the new regime under Diamond will turn out yet. But what you can judge and clearly see is the progress that the team is making week-by-week, this was acknowledged by the man himself too. When asked if his ‘strip it all back and make things more simple’ approach is starting to work.
“It has definitely worked and points-wise we have gone from getting beat by 50 points, we were then getting beat by 30 points and now we’re getting beat by 10 points and I think that shows improvements in what we are trying to do.”
Adding: “Could we get better? Of course we could. Have we got players coming back to fitness? Yes we have. Will that make a difference? Yes that will.”
2022 Worcester Warriors will welcome back players in final third of season
Talking of players coming back to fitness, Diamond confirmed that Willi Heinz will be available this weekend’s game against London Irish, while game winner Duhan van der Merwe (see main image) will also be available; as Scotland has a week-long break in the Six Nations.
As for Kyle Hatherell and Owen Williams, they will be following what Diamond describes as ‘the protocol’ which means they will go through a week or two training before being made available for selection. With players edging closer to returns to action and progress, as mentioned, being clear to see, the aim that Diamond has for the rest of the season is very much simple and stripped back. That aim is ‘to win’.
On the aim for his side for the rest of the season and if the goal is to win the battle between the bottom four side in the league table. He said: ”The primary aim is to win a game and if we can move up in that area then yeah, it is but if I’m honest, and I’m not a defeatist in any way but the results are irrelevant to me a little bit at the minute.
“I’m just working out the full extent on what we have got here and what we need to reshuffle and bring in, the performances have definitely got better but I’m unsure whether we are good enough to beat the sides above that eighth spot at the minute.”
🗣 "They stand up every time they are picked."
Steve Diamond talks about the impressive performances from homegrown youngsters after tonight's narrow defeat. pic.twitter.com/8c42FVCSSr
— Worcester Warriors (@WorcsWarriors) February 25, 2022
As for this weekend, that is exactly what fans may find out as the Warriors will make the trip to the Brentford Community Stadium to take on London Irish – who Diamond described as “the best form team at the minute in the league” – one to watch. Quite right too as London Irish are currently sitting in fifth position in the Premiership table and have only lost three times in their last 11 outings and have lost just twice at home this season.
Big clash ahead: London Irish v Worcester Warriors
On Saturday’s upcoming clash with the Exiles, Diamond said: “London Irish – in my opinion – are probably the best form team at the minute in the league. They’re a very good side, they’re a good hard-working pack of forwards with some class players in there like (Adam) Coleman, Sean O’Brien and (Agustin) Creevy. So they’re a big pack of forwards and their backline is electric.
Note: the last time the two side’s met, Worcester had the better of the Exiles 36-24 at Sixways.
The director of rugby seems confident that this 2022 Worcester Warriors version is ‘on the improve’. And they will have to, as a long sequence of tough opponents are on the horizon.
📆 A busy month ahead 📆 pic.twitter.com/jO4dYUmzVY
— Worcester Warriors (@WorcsWarriors) March 1, 2022
Saturday’s game is definitely going to provide another opportunity for Diamond’s team to measure themselves up with a top team in the league. And it will also give him another opportunity to have a look at what areas need work, take stock of the team he has, and most of all, give him more of an idea of what needs to be done so that the progress fans are seeing from the Warriors can continue and ‘potentially’ go on to bigger and better things.
2021/22 Gallagher Premiership Round 19: London Irish v Worcester Warriors. Saturday, March 5
“Main photo credit”
Embed from Getty Images