Pat Sanderson believes the memory of a ‘remarkable’ Great Escape will fire the Warriors to greater heights next season and is convinced the club is stronger for the experience.
The Sixways skipper, currently preparing to jet off with England for the tour to South Africa, admits he is still digesting the events of an epic 2006/07 campaign.
Sanderson has revealed all the staff at the club ‘lived and breathed’ every second of the battle to avoid the drop but never once lost hope.
And now he is convinced the rock-solid bond in the dressing room will fire Warriors forward when the big Guinness Premiership kick-off arrives in just over four months time.
“I don’t believe they are many clubs who would have got out of that situation,” he said.
“Given the pressure and stress of the environment we were in it’s quite remarkable. A lot of clubs would have splintered and we didn’t.
“It’s been an immense challenge. Something I think we will look back on and be proud of.
“The season was uncomfortable for everyone in the club, the fans, the backroom staff but no one more so than the players. To overcome what we did was a huge relief.
“For the last three or four months everyone here lived and breathed and believed that we would get out of the mess. It was so all-encompassing. It’s been very overwhelming, even for our families.”
Sanderson admits the pride he took from the last day display against Saracens and the way the players ‘overcame their demons’ still burns brightly deep inside him.
“It was a good performance made even better by the conditions we were playing in and the pressure we were under,” said the back row star.
“It wasn’t ‘Let’s go and play a cup final’ pressure, it was far more debilitating worrying for players when their livelihoods are on the line. But all credit to the guys, there was not one person who stood back.
“We went out there and overcame our demons and put in the best performance at Sixways for a long time.
“But I honestly thought we were always going to get out of it. It’s a lesson for life that if you don’t believe you are actually going to do something then you won’t do it. Proof that we believed was there against Saracens.”
Warriors will start next season under the leadership of new Director of Rugby Mike Ruddock.
And Sanderson admitted the players were all looking forward to working under the former Wales coach when they resume training in June.
“We have to be excited by Mike’s credentials – he has won major rugby tournaments,” he added. “And we have got back some of the core values that are central to this rugby club.”