Premiership Preview: Worcester Warriors
Last Season: 2nd (Championship, play-off winners)
Top Tryscorer: Max Stelling (15)
Top Pointscorer: Ryan Lamb (128)
Last year proved to be both memorable and remarkable in equal measure for the Warriors. One of the Championship’s best-supported teams, there is always pressure to succeed, but finishing second, 33 points ahead of third-placed London Scottish, gave them the opportunity to make an immediate return to the Premiership.
A two-legged triumph over Scottish secured their place in the final against league leaders Bristol, before a stunning late effort, culminating in wiping out a 14-point deficit in the final six minutes of the Final tie, sealed a return to the top tier after relegation in 2014.
The Coach: Dean Ryan
Ryan enjoyed a stellar playing career, taking in spells with Saracens and Newcastle Falcons alongside six caps for England, but the towering former Number 8 has carved out a fine coaching career. Tipped by many to succeed Andy Robinson as England chief back in 2006, Ryan remained loyal to his club side Gloucester, before a spell in charge of Scotland led him back down to the south-west.
Despite his history as a player, the 49-year-old has assembled one of the finest back lines in British club rugby and will be looking to the flanks as his side aim to retain their Premiership status this year.
Key Player: Tom Biggs
Amongst a host of bright young talents in the Warriors’ back division, 31-year-old Tom Biggs could be crucial in what looks set to be a testing season. Hull-born Biggs became an icon during his days at Leeds Tykes, now Yorkshire Carnegie, racking up 260 points in just 108 games, a number of those in the Premiership. After racing in for 14 tries last season, the veteran winger will be looking to continue his form this year.
Prediction: 11th. Survival, just
Worcester will undoubtedly excite fans across the country with their ambitious and expansive style, but the step up from the second tier will undoubtedly be tough. They are firm favourites for relegation, with good reason, but Dean Ryan is capable of leading his talented troops to a respectable year and they may well shock some of the division’s bigger sides. They will need a fair slice of luck on their side and a kind run of injuries to pull it off, but they have a squad which has the ability to survive. Odds for Title: 500/1.