Press Conference Notes 23.11.21

Head Coach Jonathan Thomas spoke to the media today ahead of Friday’s Gallagher Premiership match against Newcastle Falcons at Kingston Park (kick-off 7.45pm).

Here’s what Jonathan had to say:

On the Premiership Rugby Cup win against Bristol Bears

  • I was really pleased on a few fronts. As we said last week, with no Premiership Shield this season, a lot of players have been training incredibly hard since the start of pre-season and not getting their reward at the weekends.
  • So it was pleasing that, having got that opportunity, they performed so well and transferred what they had been doing in training into Saturday.
  • We had 13 homegrown Worcester players in the matchday squad, three debutants and 17 or 18 players aged 25 or under. To see them go out and play with intent and to express themselves as they did was good to see.

Anyone who impressed you in particular?

  • It really was a team effort based on the foundation of powerful performance from our pack at the maul, in the scrums and our lineout defence.
  • I thought Alex Hearle was outstanding and was involved in nearly all of our ten tries.
    Harri Doel was having a fine game before he unfortunately he had to go off with a head injury right at the end of the first half.
  • Jack Johnson, Billy Searle and Gareth Simpson also had really good games but you can only play well as back if your foundations are strong up front. It would be unfair to single out anyone in particular because it was very much a collective effort from all 23 players.
  • There are still some work-ons, there’s always room for growth and there’s some hard work for our players to do but I am really pleased for everyone at the club.

On Steve Diamond’s appointment as Lead Rugby Consultant

  • Nothing has changed from my perspective as Head Coach. I am still responsible for the preparation of the team and the coaching programme and managing and leading the rugby department.
  • The only thing is that I now report to Steve as Lead Rugby Consultant rather than Solly as Director of Rugby.
  • Steve has got huge experience as Director of Rugby at Sale and he will add real value to the club when he comes in next week.
  • There has been a huge amount of change at the club over the last 12 months or so with the number of players who left at the end of last season, new players coming in and changes in the coaching staff. Rugby is about chemistry and combinations and that takes time.
  • We also went through a period of adversity at the start of the season when most of our leadership group were injured.
  • But we feel that we are in a good place. A huge amount of good work has been done on the shop floor over the last six months and we have put some good foundations in place.
  • Having someone with Steve’s experience coming in is exciting for the club. He can guide, support and develop myself and all the other coaches and add value to all the good things that are going on at the club.

Have you had chance to speak to Steve yet?

  • I’ve had some really good discussions with Steve in person and on the phone and, on the back of those conversations, there’s no doubt that we can work really well together.
  • He’s refreshingly honest and direct. Those are characteristics that I like in a person and those are the type of people that I like to work with.
  • I have worked with a lot of direct people in the past, the likes of Shaun Edwards, Pat Lam and Warren Gatland have all been very direct and honest characters and individuals. I’m really looking forward to working with Dimes here.
  • It’s important that I have a good relationship with Steve. He is coming in to guide, develop and support with the experience that he has.
  • I have listened to Eddie Jones and he says that even with all his experience he is still learning as a coach. You have to keep growing and evolving.
  • As a young Head Coach my passion is coaching. I want to be coaching on the shop floor. I have no interest at my age on being a DOR, or to be managing up or getting involved in the politics.
  • I want to be coach, that’s what excites me and that’s what I am passionate about and that’s what I will be doing. Dimes comes in above that as Lead Rugby Consultant who can do all the other stuff.
  • He’s had experience of that at Sale. There are different challenges that he has had to face there. Probably in the early days there were financial challenges which meant that Sale had to punch above their weight.
  • One of Steve’s big strengths is around recruitment and how he managed working with agents. He’s done a good job there bringing some world-class players in.
  • Dimes has a good skill-set around the big picture side that can be of huge value to Worcester.
  • In terms of the coaching team it allows us to coach and to do what we are paid to do. So I am really excited about the relationship that we can build and the different skill-sets everyone can offer.

On facing Newcastle

  • They are a tough side. They are very physical, they are very good defensively and they have had some good wins this season.
  • You don’t need to over-think the game. It’s about mindset, physicality and being emotionally ready.
  • Dean Richards has done a fantastic job there in making them a difficult team to beat.


  • Harri Doel didn’t pass his head injury assessment so he will not be available this weekend.
  • Niall Annett rolled an ankle in the final training session before the Bristol game. We are confident that he will be OK this weekend.
  • Isaac Miller needed a head injury assessment on Saturday.
  • Anton Bresler needed a head injury assessment on Saturday.
  • Will Butler suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury against Bristol and it looks like that could the end of his season. We really feel for Buts because he has worked so hard and waited patiently for his opportunity and he’s already had to deal with quite a few injuries in his career. But he will come back stronger.
  • Jack Owlett is going to be out for a couple of months because of a hip injury that has required surgery.
  • Willi Heinz will not be fit this weekend.
  • Duhan van der Merwe has had three tough games for Scotland and he has come back a little bit sore. We will make a call based on what is right for Duhan as a person.
  • Sione Vailanu is in a different situation to Duhan. He played for Tonga against England then had a week off and although he played against Romania last week it was off the bench. So he is pretty fresh and good to go.
  • Chris Ashton is still not available for selection.