Worcester Warriors are set to make the short trip down the M5 to Kingsholm on Friday night as they take on Gloucester in a derby under the lights. After a week’s break from Gallagher Premiership duties, the Warriors return to league action as they go hunting for a second-ever league win at Gloucester.
Steve Diamond and Lock-Forward Graham Kitchener spoke to the media ahead of the game and here’s what they had to say on the game and also there was huge plot twist to sweeten what was another memorable Steve Diamond media session.
Friday’s game: Gloucester vs Worcester Warriors
— Worcester Warriors (@WorcsWarriors) March 21, 2022
It’s never a good idea to try to draw comparisons when you are talking about two rival teams. However, if Worcester Warriors are looking for what can be done to turn bad league finish fortunes around then Gloucester will likely be a team they should probably look at. Just 12 months ago, Friday nights hosts were in the exact same position the Warriors find themselves in now – flirting with the bottom of the log as Steve Diamond likes to call it.
12 months on and Gloucester are looking like they could be set to find themselves in Gallagher Premiership Rugby playoff action come June 11th. That said, there’s plenty of time and games before that can be set in stone. So, talking ahead of the game, Graham Kitchener shared his thoughts on the turnaround we have seen from the Cherry & Whites.
”Gloucester are probably a bit disappointed about how they went last season, but as we’ve analyzed them this week, they are a really strong team (this season) and not just upfront but across the board so they are certainly doing something right.”
Friday’s hosts are well known for their rolling maul abilities, and how clinical they are from five meters out with it so like many other team’s has tried to do this season, the Warriors will almost certainly have to combat that at times if they are to claim a huge derby win. This was also something that was spoken about and Kitchener is all too well aware of saying “the first way we stop that (maul) is to not give them field position and not give them penalties where they can kick to touch. It’s the most effective maul in the league and it’s something we are well aware of.”
Steve Diamond also mentioned the Gloucester maul as well as some other strengths they have when he sat down to speak about his team’s opponents on Friday. Diamond also mentioned how his team will have to do well to ensure they don’t suffer what he calls ‘a good hiding’.
”They’re doing well, obviously well-coached, like Gloucester of old with a good maul, a good forward pack and an exciting back three. They are a very good side all-round. We’ll have to do well not to get a very good hiding there I think.”
“Their strengths are the driving maul and their back three. They’ve scored 20-plus tries from the maul this year and if we don’t kick accurately either and kick into the hands of their back three then they will run us ragged. We’ve got to play a controlled game and hope the ball doesn’t go out of play too much for their line-out which is immense.”
Returning faces and some still a fair bit off it yet
Ahead of the game Diamond provided an update on a handful of players who will be available for selection against Gloucester, while some of the longer-term injuries the team are carrying are still a few weeks away from a return yet.
Kyle Hatterell (shoulder), Rory Sutherland (internationals), Duhan van der Merwe (suspension) and Sione Vailanu (return to rugby protocols) are all fit and available for selection. As is Jamie Shillcock who came through Saturday’s Premiership Rugby Cup game against Exeter unscathed.
🔢 Four more tries yesterday to take our #PremRugbyCup total to 18 in 3 games ✨
Full highlights ⬇️
— Worcester Warriors (@WorcsWarriors) March 20, 2022
Worcester Warriors will however be without Francois Venter (calf), Owen Williams (hamstring), Sam Lewis (dead leg) for at least another week as they will not be available for the game. Neither will centre Ollie Lawrence, who Diamond has said is “still at least two to three weeks away from returning after not having a great time of it with a reoccurring hamstring problem.”
Five signed, two more to follow and some brand new contracts are handed out
If there’s one thing you can always guarantee that you will get from Steve Diamond then Kitchener speaking beforehand hit the nail on the head… “Steve’s honest, direct and simplifies things” Kitchener however was talking about what Diamond brings to the team on the grass. However, the same can be said about Diamond off the field as in true Steve Diamond style, he made the sit down very much more interesting in a few sentences.
Asked about how his recruitment is progressing and whether he was any further with it ahead of next season, Diamond in his honest, direct and simple way said:
“Yeah, yeah I am. We are well on the way, we have recruited two props, two hookers, a back-row forward. We’ve recontacted a lot of the lads who are already here. They are there, we are well and truly on it, we are looking for two more players only and I don’t know who they are yet, I know what positions they are and I’m not telling you that at the minute. But when I get those two sorted then you will see… The dirty dozen!”
Now, it will be the most asked question among Warriors supporters of who, when and how long before we know? Well, in the words of the man himself.. “When Paul Bolton, who is probably, possibly, definitely the most senior and old media officer in the competition, gives me permission to say.”
It’s widely known that Diamond has always said that by the end of March, he will know exactly “what I am working with, who is here and who is not here next season” so with this latest and completely unexpected unofficial announcement, it certainly fits his timeline. That said, with nine days of March left, they could come very shortly indeed.
In regards to the two additional players Diamond is looking to recruit but will not name the positions. Scrum-half Willi Heinz has today left the club to return to his native New Zealand with immediate effect. This was a mutual agreement between Heinz and the club themselves. With that in mind, one of those two unnamed positions, it wouldn’t be a surprise at all IF a scrum-half is and has been one of those final two positions that he is looking for.
Watch this space…
Worcester Warriors travel to Kingholm on Friday night to take on Gloucester with kickoff set for 7:45pm GMT. The game is also live on BT Sport.
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