Ruddock challenges players to impress

Mike Ruddock has told his Warriors to go out and win a Guinness Premiership starting spot when they face Plymouth Albion on Saturday (3pm kick-off).

Warriors face the highly-rated National Division One outfit at Brickfields and Director of Rugby Ruddock is eager for his men to impress.

A strong side has been selected for the penultimate pre-season game with less than a month until the big kick off at Bath Rugby.

And Ruddock, who will take charge of his first XV game, has told his squad it is a ‘big day’ for them all as the clock continues to tick down to the opener at the Recreation Ground.

“As a coaching team we have been impressed with the group of players – but at Plymouth they need to go out and impress,” he said.

“It’s a big day for all the players and hopefully they will respond to that challenge, they have a new group of selectors to show what they can do.

“Ideally I’d like to see as many players as I can in action on the day. The team we have selected will play for up to an hour but after that I am looking to get the rest of the squad involved.”

Ruddock insists Plymouth will prove a tough test for his troops on home soil and expects a big forward battle.

“It’s a tough assignment because they finished towards the top of National One last season and were particularly difficult to beat at Plymouth,” he said.

“They recorded a good win over Neath recently and they are particularly strong up front.

“Graham Dawe is their chairman of rugby and he is obviously very well known for using his expertise on forwards, undoubtedly the Plymouth pack is going very well. But whilst we think they are a credit to the forward style their backs have looked quite sharp too.”

Warriors will complete their pre-season next weekend with a home double header against London Irish at Sixways before a fortnight rest until the season opener.

And Ruddock has already told his team what he expects when the Guinness Premiership bursts into life.

“Our goal is to be there or thereabouts in the league and we’re after a big start to the season, but we won’t quite be 100 per cent to begin with.

“There are some new things we are trying out, some new combinations we want to see playing together and we’ve only got a limited number of warm-up games to look at them in.

“I’ve been coaching for over 20 years at many different levels, but the principals remain the same.

“If you can get a good start to the season, get some confidence in the camp and some belief in what you’re about, it really does make things easier.”