Johnston putting academy building blocks in place

Nick Johnston admits the academy programme at Sixways will be vastly improved over the next few years.

Since his arrival in December, the High Performance Director has begun to put building blocks in place to ensure the Warriors Academy becomes one of the best in the country in the long-term.

Johnston has been identifying areas to strengthen to ensure Warriors can develop their next generation of first-team stars and hold on to them when they break into the side.

He said: “There’s been a good academy here in the past but we’re now at a stage where we’ve got to get on and put new systems and procedures in place to become a top academy again.

“It will happen because there’s a desire and appetite. The quicker you build upwards from the bottom the more effective and sustainable the top is. And that will allow for longevity in top-end performance going forward.”

Johnston’s work has seen him meet with educational establishments and junior rugby clubs to build partnerships across the region.

He continued: “We’ve got a great area here and we’re working with existing partners and potential partners to build our relationships further. That includes schools, colleges, universities and local clubs.

“We’ll put systems in place where these young athletes are cared for and developed in parallel with their education.

“When I was at Northampton, a lot of people put in a lot of work to the academy programme and that was the most satisfying outcome of my time at the club. We want to replicate that here.”

The academy programme has already seen the implementation of Development Player Pathways, where the club works with youngsters from the age of 13.

And Johnston is certain that Warriors will reap the rewards in years to come if they can work on all aspects of a youngster’s game throughout their development years.

He added: “Young players who come through our system will have an emphasis on continued learning. They’ll be taught about how to develop physically, technically and educationally.

“The coaching here is outstanding. It’s very detailed and some of the best I’ve come across. So if we get the academy process right, there will only be one outcome.”