Head Coach Jonathan Thomas spoke to the media today ahead of Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership match against Exeter Chiefs at Sixways (kick-off 3.00pm).
Here’s what Jonathan had to say:
Have you been able to use the two week break from competitive rugby productively?
- We gave everyone a week off after the European competitions were cancelled which we needed ahead of a run of nine consecutive Premiership games.
- We came back in last Monday which gave us a good week of conditioning and it also gave Mark Jones the opportunity to work with the players in his first full week with us.
- The cancellation of the European matches was frustrating for our younger players and those coming back from injury that they didn’t get an opportunity to play. But those opportunities are likely to come either through injury or rotation during this sequence of nine matches.
On Chris Ashton’s signing
- Our back three is an area of concern because of injuries to Melani Nanai and Noah Heward and a couple of other niggles.
- The big thing for us when we are looking to bring people in to our environment is: are they going to add value on and off the pitch?
- I worked with Chris when I was part of the Barbarians’ coaching team three years ago so I got to see what a consummate professional he is.
- He’s a prolific try-scorer, he’s very motivated and he’s got an eye on that Premiership try record.
- We felt that he would add a lot of value and signing Chris is a good bit of business for us.
- We haven’t yet decided whether Chris will play against Exeter. We play and train on an artificial pitch and it can take time for players to adapt to the surface.
- We will make an assessment on Chris later in the week.
On facing Exeter
- It’s a really good challenge. They are the Premiership and European champions and we are excited and we are relishing the opportunity to test ourselves against the best team in England over the last 18 months.
- But the beauty of this competition, and the reason why we love it so much, is every game is a game and every game is tough.
There has been a lot of talk about scrapping relegation because of the impact of COVID. What are your thoughts?
- There is a lot of discussion about the integrity of the competition with points being awarded because of COVID.
- It’s a very difficult situation, it’s no-one’s fault and I don’t know what the answer is.
- But it would make sense to me as a rugby man looking at the financial challenges clubs face, the retention and recruitment of players, the reduction in the salary cap and looking after the health and safety of people if there was a period of stability which would allow clubs to cut their cloth accordingly.
There were reports that Sinoti Sinoti came on trial last week. Is that correct?
- Sinoti has been out of the game for a few months and he asked for the opportunity to train with us which we did.
- The boys enjoyed having him around but he is no longer with us and he has now gone back to Australia.
Bryce Heem has left Toulon. Is there any chance of him coming back to Warriors?
- Bryce is a legend at this club and I am sure that there are a lot of supporters who would love to have him back.
- But he made it very clear in his statement that he is going back to New Zealand for family reasons.
- We have already recruited Duhan van der Merwe for next season so we are all done in terms of signing wings.
- Noah Heward has tweaked a hamstring which has delayed his return. We are seeking specialist feedback.
- Francois Venter has recovered from illness and he is fit and available again.
- Graham Kitchener is back training and available for selection.
- Andrew Kitchener will be out for two more weeks because of an elbow injury.