Recently retired former Warrior Hal Luscombe has backed Worcester to find their holy grail next season and secure a place in the Heineken Cup.
The South African-born centre believes last year’s injury struggles, which deprived director of rugby Mike Ruddock of any sort of selectoral consistency, will help the Sixways outfit finish in the top six this time round.
Ruddock’s squad was hamstrung by problems such as the knee condition that prevented Luscombe from making his debut until December – to name just one example of dozens – and the Welshman was forced into picking players virtually straight out of the club’s academy.
But Luscombe, who played 16 times for Ruddock’s Wales and was a part of the 2005 Grand Slam side, insists youngsters like Alex Grove, Joey Carlisle and Graham Kitchener will be better prepared for the cut and thrust of league rugby given their exposure last term.
Grove in particular has emerged as a natural replacement for Luscombe who in the end only managed nine appearances and six starts in his single campaign at Sixways.
Amidst all the swingeing injuries the 21-year-old enjoyed a breakthrough season, went on to win selection for Scotland A and is being tipped as one of the stars of 2009-10.
Which makes him just one of several reasons why Luscombe thinks his team-mates can finally break into the top half of the division after five years of failure.
“The Premiership is the hardest provincial competition on the planet, it is such a hard environment but I think they will do considerably better than last season,” Luscombe says.
“The top six is a definite possibility, particularly given some of the things that have happened at other clubs. Key to the process is stability and Worcester have had that for the last couple of years.
“They managed to blood a lot of young players last season who got a lot of experience.
“They are pretty much covered in every position, there are one or two where they could have a look but otherwise there is great depth there.
“They started early and there’s a lot of hunger and camaraderie there that can hopefully carry them through.”
Luscombe likens Warriors’ development to that of his former team Harlequins when they bounced back after relegation from the top flight in 2006.
Untried prospects like Mike Brown, Jordan Turner-Hall and Chris Robshaw were all blooded at that stage and now either stand on the brink or have actually been in the England squad.
With Matt Mullan and Grove also receiving international recognition Luscombe detects signs of the same thing happening.
“I remember from my time at Harlequins, we played a lot of the young lads in National One and when we came up we did quite well in the first season and then even better the next one.
“That was a key part of them finishing second last season. There are a lot of similarities and hopefully the outcome will be the same too.”