To say last weekend didn’t exactly ‘go to plan’ would be a massive understatement. A loss to London Irish means the Worcester Warriors v Exeter Chiefs match adds a further dose of pressure to the Gallagher Premiership club.
Not only did they suffer a huge 42-12 away defeat to London Irish but, head coach Steve Diamond’s men now find themselves bottom of the Gallagher Premiership. That said, the Warriors director of rugby has stated that they ‘do not intend to stay there’ or at least, not on his or his players’ watch.
Warriors play hosts to Exeter Chiefs this weekend at Sixways and with a smile and a chuckle, Diamond said “It gets easier doesn’t it” before admitting that his team will have to turn up at home if they are to get a result against a team who are well known for being among the top two places.
Saturday’s game: Worcester Warriors v Exeter Chiefs
Speaking to the media ahead of Saturday’s home game against Exeter, Diamond gave his thoughts on the Chiefs game ahead, defeat to London Irish, Duhan van der Merwe’s disciplinary hearing, as well as an update on the current injuries and next seasons plans.
”It gets easier doesn’t it (said with a smile and chuckle)… They’re a good side, I watched them play Sale on Sunday and they were unfortunate not to get a bonus point. They dismantled Sale and they’re on a reasonable run of form.
“They’ve had a different sort of year for Exeter as they are normally sat up in one or two position but this year they’re fighting for it a bit more. We’ve got to turn up at the weekend, at home. We’ll have a few more available as well to be fair but yeah, I’m looking forward to it and I can’t wait for it actually.”
Ahead of the game, Diamond provided us with an update regarding a few players returning from COVID/illness as well as a few injury updates and who will be in contention and who is still a week or so away yet.
State of the squad heading into the Chiefs game
”We’ve extended the training week. We didn’t train on Monday, we came in yesterday and today so lads who had COVID last week are no longer showing symptons and have tested negative. Graham (Kitchener) will be available this week, Niall (Annett) will be available, Murray (McCallum) will be available, Willi Heinz got through ok last week, and Oli Morris will come back into the team.”
The Warriors will undoubtedly be boosted by the returning faces, however, Jamie Shillcock is still at least a week away from a return but could be available for the Premiership Cup game next weekend away to Exeter. As for Kyle Hatherell, Owen Williams, Francois Venter, and Sam Lewis, they won’t be available for the next two weeks at least
Of more concern for the group, Ollie Lawrence, Melani Nanai, and Will Butler all remain as Warriors’ long-term absentees. So rotation is a tool at hand for Diamond as the side reflects on this week’s opponent, as well as how they finally dissect the outcome from their last match.
What went wrong for the Warriors against London Irish?
”We got a lot of things wrong, our attitude wasn’t right for some reason which will hopefully be rectified for this weekend. But overall disappointed, as we’ve been beaten in previous matches but we’ve been competitive but we weren’t competitive.” Adding: “Discipline was poor, just lackluster overall and very disappointed. We handed them opportunities for four of their seven tries and didn’t take opportunities ourselves so it’s a bit of a same old, same old Worcester really.”
Another big talking point from the game was winger Duhan van der Merwe’s a red card shown by referee Jack Makepeace just five minutes into the second half. Asked about how the hearing and about the three-week ban that Duhan has been handed by the disciplinary panel following the hearing on Tuesday night, Diamond said that he saw it as a yellow card.
Duhan van der Merwe’s red card and the disciplinary process
”Under the guidelines – yeah – I think so (on whether a three-week ban was the right conclusion). People in our position can’t go around saying the games gone soft because the laws are there. Referees can only administer the laws where they see fit.
”We challenged it, to be fair I thought it was a yellow card but to the letter of the law and the balance of probabilities, the panel thought it warranted a red card.”
Duhan van der Merwe forearm challenge leading to red card, London Irish vs Worchester Mar 5 2022 pic.twitter.com/czcTcxFCyz
— Documentary Photography (@docphotography_) March 6, 2022
The games that his winger will miss are going to include the rest of Scotland’s Guinness Six Nations tournament. However, van der Merwe will likely return for Warriors for their game against Gloucester on Friday, March 24 despite his ban being three weeks long. Why? Because the Scotland International will attend a coaches intervention course subsequently; reducing the ban to just two actual weeks. Thankfully for Worcester supporters, it will be no more (despite initially looking at a six-week ban) with mitigating factors reducing it to three.
If the Warriors are to get a result on Saturday then they will have to right all the wrongs of last weekend’s defeat against London Irish and show better discipline and put in a much lackluster shift. Now at the foot of the Gallagher Premiership table, and with no relegation and promotion, the pressure could be seen as being less, although, not on Diamond’s watch it’s not.
“Absolutely (it’s important), and it is for the players, the players that are staying, the players that are leaving. It’s on our watch and we don’t want that to happen.”
“We’ve got this weekend, we’ve got a Premiership Cup game and then we’ve got a bit of a little season for us because we play Bath and Newcastle in that period after at home, in the last four or five games of the season so there’s something to play for and certainly for a bit of pride. Notwithstanding the fact there’s no relegation, I for one don’t want to be bottom of the log at the end of the season.”
Worcester Warriors v Exeter Chiefs Saturday afternoon at Sixways, with kickoff scheduled for 2.30pm GMT.
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