Hill reflects on Aviva A League start

Head Coach Richard Hill has reflected on the opening weeks of the Aviva A League season – admitting the lengthy injury list at Sixways has hit the club’s campaign.

Worcester Cavaliers have lost the opening two games of the season to Gloucester United and Northampton Wanderers.

Hill has revealed his selection dilemma for the Monday night games with such a large number of senior stars still on the treatment table.

However, he has paid tribute to the character and spirit of the young players who have represented the club in the opening weeks.

“Out of squad of 36 senior players we have been without 12 players through injury and that has hit us hard. It’s frustrating because we obviously want to see as many of them out playing every week,” he said.

“We have had 24 players fit for Aviva Premiership rugby; we couldn’t afford to play them in the Aviva A League because of the risk of injury.

“We have had that core group of players for the first three league matches and very fortunately we have not picked up any more injuries in those games.

“Nikki Walker came back for the first time last weekend so we have been down to 11 injured players, but that is still a large number to be without.

“This has clearly had an impact on the Aviva A League and meant we have not been able to field many of the other senior players for risk of injury.

“We had a few players come back on Monday, such as Blair Cowan and Ed Shervington, who both had 40 minutes of game time.

“But normally we would be able to field a side with the likes of Danny Gray, Errie Claassens, Ravai Fatiaki, Paul Hodgson, Jon Clarke, Jake Abbott, Neil Best and Tevita Taumoepeau when they are available.

“We are not deliberately putting out under strength teams. But our hands have been tied by the injury situation we have found ourselves in the opening weeks of the season. The Aviva A League season is at the start of the season when unfortunately we have been hit by injuries.”

Hill admitted the injury situation had also impacted on the Academy squad and thanked many of the local clubs for their support during the period.

He said: “The Academy numbers have been reduced this season in a bid to integrate the best young players into our senior programme. But even they have been hit with injuries with the likes of Tom Carlisle, Max Stelling and Ed Taylor all currently unavailable.

“That combined with the injury list has meant we have been relying on clubs in the area, for which we are very grateful. Phil Maynard at Coventry has been helpful to us and also teams like Dudley Kingswinford. It is a great experience for them and we are sure they have benefitted from it.

“Against Northampton we fielded a lad called Tom Baker at fly half who I know well from Bath where he lives near me and plays. He found himself up against Ryan Lamb and although it was a tough ask he relished the opportunity.

“The players have shown good spirit and looked to play attacking rugby,” he added.

“It is difficult to get ball when you come up against some big packs, but against Northampton we played some good rugby, showed character and scored a fantastic try through Ben Howard.

“It is still a fantastic experience for these young players. We have suffered two heavy defeats, but the experience is something we can’t take away from them and it will stand them in good stead.”