Mike Ruddock has ordered his Worcester Warriors to adopt a cup final mentality and prepare for a war when they face Newcastle Falcons at Kingston Park in the Guinness Premiership on Saturday (kick-off 3pm).
Warriors travel to the north east for a crunch clash with Director of Rugby Ruddock demanding a response after the draw with bottom club Bristol Rugby last time out.
Ruddock has revealed his squad have a ‘steely determination’ to put right the performance against Bristol which he insists let them down and the fans.
“It is going to be a battle, they are going to be looking at it as a war and we have to do the same. It will be physical, nail-biting and every decision is going to count,” he said.
“We have had a good recent record against them but that means nothing, you can never rely on the past.
“After the Bristol game we have beaten ourselves up, we need to use that frustration and that anger and take it up to Newcastle.
“It is about us, they will be waiting for us but we need to get our game together, get our accuracy and be more clinical.
“We should have won the game against Bristol, it was one that got away as far as we are concerned and it was our own failings in the second half and not nailing it down that allowed them to get a draw.
“There are some factors that we have to take into account. Our preparation was blighted by all the flu bugs and colds that were going around. Only really on Friday did we fully get everyone back on the paddock and training as a unit.
“Our preparation wasn’t as good as it could have been, however, we are not looking for excuses, we need to play better than we did against Bristol and we need to do that against Newcastle.”
Ruddock has hinted he will make a few changes in the pack for the game but is ready to name the same backs and give new loan signing Eoghan Hickey some continuity outside him and the chance to flourish.
He said: “We would like to settle our backline down at the moment and try and keep on working on the players we have there at the moment.
“We have had so many other injuries and changes over the last couple of weeks so I would like to keep some continuity so that means Hal will probably be on the bench.
“In fairness we have a brand new ten in Eoghan and it would be nice to give him the same personnel outside him for the second week so things can be worked on and refined rather than giving new players around him.
“We will probably make one or two changes in and around the pack, but otherwise it will be settled behind.”
Worcester have enjoyed a good recent record against Falcons, with three successive victories in all competitions, but Ruddock insists this will count for nothing.
“It is another massive game and we have to adopt a cup final mentality. We have trained really well and we realise we let ourselves down and let the fans down last time out. We have got to cut out the errors in our game which have hurt us.
“There has been a steely determination to us this week to put things right and it was great to do a session with 31 players in this week.
“That has been the most we have had in a number of weeks, with all the injuries that we have had. It was one of our best sessions for a long time and hopefully that will now transfer into the game. We are optimistic that we can step up a level.
“No one really wants to travel to Newcastle at this time of year, they will be fired up and waiting for us to ambush us,” he added.
“But we are professional and organised and we got our minds around this fixture a long time ago. We are looking forward to it and not negative about its timing, we know we have got to go and do a job and we have made it very clear to the players what that job entails. They know they have to step it up.”