Mike Ruddock has warned Worcester supporters not to expect ‘Barbarians’ rugby when he starts his Sixways reign at Bath on Saturday.
The Warriors director of rugby has a reputation for producing teams that play with an expansive and flowing style, indeed when he guided Wales to the Grand Slam in 2005 he did so on the back of some of the most attractive rugby of recent years.
That perception was only confirmed in pre-season when Ruddock’s Worcester approached their two games with Plymouth Albion and London Irish in a similar vein and although they failed to rip their opponents to shreds, the intent to keep the ball alive was clear to see. But as they start their Premiership campaign at The Rec this weekend the Welshman has promised his side will not be as ambitious when league points are on the line.
“What we did see in our warm up games warm up games was a directive to promote a very attacking style of rugby with an emphasis on off loading to the player in space,” Ruddock said. “With just two matches it was really important that we tried to force the guys to play and that will be underpinning our game at all times – but it won’t be the only way.
“We are not trying to turn this team into the Barbarians. There will be times when we want to play with control.
“The best teams have Plan A and B and we’re not going to go out there and try to run on every occasion. If it is not good quality ball we will look to generate pressure another way.”
Ruddock will name his first Worcester side on Friday and expects to pick from a position of strength. While long term injuries Tim Collier and Lee Best are not available and Nick Runciman and Dominic Feaunati are out with rib and elbow injuries respectively, Ruddock will also be without five players who are away on World Cup duty.
But on the positive side James Brown has recovered from his hip problem and Drew Hickey and Kai Horstmann are both in contention to start.