Worcester Warriors have launched their Development Player Pathway (DPP) as they look to find the next generation of first-team stars.
Warriors have set-up four centres where talented youngsters will train under the guidance of the best coaches in the West Midlands.
The centres are based at Coventry Rugby Club, Birmingham University and Telford College, with the best youngsters picked to train at Sixways – the fourth centre. There are also plans to introduce a further two centres in seasons to come.
Academy Manager Mark Hewitt said: “The DPP scheme is our first chance to identify the best young players in the area and offer them top-class coaching to aid their development.
“The best players will stay with us and progress through our system until they are ready to form part of our academy at the age of 18.
“Our aim is to find players who will one day be good enough to represent the first-team.”
Players in the DPP will complete four blocks of training throughout the season and be assessed at the beginning and end of each block.
Coaches have specific criteria they are looking for young players to possess including attitude, skill-set, athletic capability and potential to be a Warrior.
The best players from the DPP will progress to Warriors’ Elite Player Development Group before feeding into the Under 18s, Best of the Best and Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence (AASE) schemes when they leave school.
The next stage of development comes with a full-time place in the Warriors academy and, with it, the opportunity to play professional rugby at Warriors.
Since his arrival, Director of Rugby Dean Ryan has spoken about the need for Warriors to produce their own talent and keep them at the club when they are ready to play Aviva Premiership rugby.
And he believes the new DPP scheme will act as the foundations for this process.
He said: “My challenge is to break the cycle of this club finishing 11th. So we need to understand what a successful club looks like and how we get there.
“It is a cultural change which will help us get to where we want to be. If we can generate over 60 or 70 per cent of the first-team squad from the DPP, we will be in a strong position.
“Unless we grasp it now, we won’t have the product in five years time. So we have to get it right.”