Heathcote – Winning individual battles is key

Warriors fly-half Tom Heathcote believes individual battles are “key” in Saturday’s Aviva Premiership opener against Saracens at Twickenham (kick-off 2pm).

In last season’s fixture, Warriors fell to a 48-18 defeat at the hands of the eventual league and European Champions Cup winners but Heathcote insists Warriors have learnt from their previous Twickenham encounter ahead of Saturday’s curtain-raiser.

He said: “We had a good basic game-plan last year but we want to build on that this year.
 
“Adding the little things and putting the focus on individuals improving their one-on-one battles, whether that’s carrying or tackling, is key.

“Winning those individual battles can give us the edge in these games.”

Warriors picked up seven wins in last season’s campaign and narrowly missed out on a handful more.

And 24-year-old Heathcote insists they must turn those close contests into wins if they are to progress up the table this season.

He continued: “We know how competitive it is in the Aviva Premiership. It’s a tough league but it’s like that because there’s such small margins between teams.

“If we can get marginal gains that can make a big difference, and if we put them all together, that could be the difference between the bottom and the middle/top half of the table.

“We had a number of games where we got losing bonus points last season and potentially could have won. If we can convert those games into wins we will be where we want to be.”

Off the back of a 12-day altitude training camp in the Alps, Heathcote believes Warriors are in a much better position to take on the reigning champions this Saturday in front of a packed-out crowd at the home of English Rugby.

He added: “It’s going to be a massive challenge for us. They taught us a lesson in both games last season and this weekend will be a real guide for us to see where we are at.

“We really learned how clinical the top sides are in this league, they take their chances and put pressure on you.

“They are very good at all the little things so those are some of the things we took away and have worked on in pre-season.
 
“We had a big strength and conditioning block over the first few weeks and in the last few weeks we have switched over to rugby.
 
“We spent 12 days in the Alps so hopefully we will feel the benefits of that altitude training going into the season.”