For more than eight years the vision of Craig Gillies’ gleaming head soaring so high above the Sixways skyline you wonder whether the floodlights are going to burn his scalp rather than just reflect off it, has become synonymous with the club he represents.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words and that of the 6ft 8ins King of the Airways doing what he does best, has become a shorthand for Worcester’s set-piece efficiency and – at times – supremacy.

Up he goes – so high you think he’d need planning permission – and down he comes with the ball, usually from a Warriors’ throw in, frequently from the opposition’s.

Gillies has been perhaps the most successful scrumper in the modern domestic game and, given some of the players who have brandished a Red Rose on their chests in the last decade, he can consider himself unfortunate not to have done likewise.

Such concerns are beyond the veteran now, however. Where his country never came calling, his club continue to do so and, Richard Hill’s rotation policy permitting, the former England A second row will this Saturday be asked to perform his party-piece for a club record 223rd time.

Fittingly it will be at Sixways, the ground where he made his name, against an Esher side that will leave the M5 at Junction Six with no little trepidation.

When the sides met in mid-September Worcester produced probably their most free-flowing performance of the season with six tries and a 48-3 victory.

That was until Gillies and the rest of the Warriors pack steamrollered Rotherham last Saturday and served notice their total will soon be more than the sum of their expensively-assembled parts.

Rather like Gillies, Worcester have taken quite a while to get into their stride but now they are the image is considerably less arthritic and the results could be devastating.

Yet in modern rugby, where loyalty is a devalued institution, this weekend will provide the hugely ambitious club with an opportunity to pay tribute to a player who has given so much to the Blue and Gold cause.

When he runs out – hopefully alone for the first few steps – Gillies will exceed Tony Windo’s appearances total and in doing so write his name into the record books, which usually only honour the try-scorers and goal-kickers.

But don’t think the Glasgow-born forward will be too misty-eyed about the occasion. “It has been mentioned to me a few times by people at the club but it is not something I have spent too much time dwelling on,” is his unromantic stance.

“I am glad to be out there playing, glad we are where we want to be – at the top of the league – and looking to peak by the time we get to the play-offs. My personal focus is on trying to look after myself and keep myself in the best shape I can.”

Which when you are taller than 98 per cent of the population and have the long back to go with it, is not easy.

“I am not getting any younger, it’s occasionally harder to get out of bed in the mornings,” he concedes. “You have to do more to stay healthy, eat the right things, look after you body and not do stuff you were doing ten or 15 years ago.

“But this year I had a really successful pre-season and felt really good going into the warm-up games, so I was a little bit disappointed and frustrated to pick up an injury in the first league game, which kept me out for four or five weeks.

“I found it a little bit harder to get my match fitness back after that. Having missed that period, when everyone else was playing week in week out, I have been playing a bit of catch up.”

Which is never a good position to be in during the final year of a contract. Like several of his experienced team-mates Gillies’ deal is up at the end of the current campaign and as a group many of them are guilty by association with last term’s relegation.

That means the former Scarlets and Richmond forward has not only got to redress the balance and restore the club to the top flight, he has also got to demonstrate he has added value to his own game so that Warriors are not in the same position in 12 months.

“I would like to stay. As far as I am concerned I would like to see Worcester back in the Premiership and I would like to play for them back in the Premiership,” he affirms.

Indeed he has set his sights on extending his Warriors career beyond ten years. He rightly points out such achievements are rare these days and if he is able to do that he could set an appearance record in excess of 250, which may never be broken.

When he arrived at Sixways in 2002 that seemed utterly fanciful. “I had come up from Scarlets and done a few months on loan at Gloucester. My first game for them was a second team game at Worcester and that’s where things got followed up from.

“The next season I was up here at Worcester playing in National One. At the time I bought into the idea of what was trying to be achieved and becoming a Premiership club.

“We narrowly missed out in the first year I was here and then the following season was our 26 from 26. The period throughout the Premiership was a rocky road, but very enjoyable for the most part. Now I just want to help put us back where we should be.”

That will require him to continue picking fruit out of the Championship skies and continuing the club’s renaissance at set-piece. Both scrum and lineout are operating over 90 per cent – keeping them there will be the next challenge.