The arrivals of Chris Latham and Hal Luscombe notwithstanding, considerable disquiet rumbled among the Sixways faithful this summer as a number of seasoned professionals left without an experienced or established player arriving as a replacement.
One such position was the second row. As Phil Murphy, Tim Collier and – to a lesser extent – Gavin Quinnell trudged away from Worcester leaving rather large holes in the Warriors’ squad.
With just Greg Rawlinson and Craig Gillies as senior locks, the inevitability rose that tyros Will Bowley and Graham Kitchener would this season have to bear a considerable amount of the burden on their young shoulders.
Recent weeks have led to that situation only intensifying. With Gillies struggling to come to terms with the move away from set-piece oriented rugby and Bowley out for several weeks with a broken thumb, it is to the teenage Kitchener to whom Mike Ruddock must turn in his time of need.
Kitchener is not so much raw as warm and still attached to a living, breathing, walking animal. An enormous 6ft 6in, 17 stone frame notwithstanding, the former Adams Grammar schoolboy is less than a fortnight past his 19th birthday.
He is, though, one of the shining lights in a Sixways constellation that has specialised in taking talented kids, sprinkling them with stardust and turning them into proven first team performers.
The production line that has sent Miles Benjamin, Matt Mullan, Chris Pennell and Tom Wood to the Warriors first team has manufactured another and if his performance against London Irish last weekend is anything to go by, he could be one of the best.
Not only did the Shropshire Lad live with supreme lineout components like Gillies and Irish’s Bob Casey, he was part of a scrum that ended the afternoon in total dominance and he scored that try.
Second rows, much less ones who are still wet behind their ears, are not supposed to dummy opposition wingers out of position and they are not supposed to then out-pace corner-flagging cover tacklers.
But then this is the rise and rise of a remarkable athlete. A youngster who saves his best for when Martin Johnson is watching.
“It was one of the best feelings ever. Honestly, it was incredible,” Kitchener says. “Before every game I imagine scoring a try but to score a decent one in the biggest game of my career was amazing.”
The fact he speaks about his career as a homogenous whole, as though it is a single body of work meticulously compiled over very many years at the coal-face is something of a curiosity.
It is, after all, only six months since he first saw the light of day in senior rugby player. The date Saturday, April 12 2008 will stand out in the Kitchener household as a red letter day, it will also go down in Premiership annals as one of quirky value.
As an 18-year-old schoolboy stood on the Adams Park sideline, about to be thrown into the maelstrom of the English top flight, Kitchener knew his time had arrived when he looked to his left and saw a familiar face.
“Simon Shaw was stood there,” he recalls. “A couple of weeks before I had looked across and there was some little Year 11 waiting to run on the pitch.”
The build-up to his debut was extraordinary. Kitchener didn’t so much dodge double maths to play as get extra homework to do.
“The night before I got my dad to sit down and test me with the lineout codes. Like revising for an exam.
“The thing that stuck out was the pace. I played 15 minutes but was as tired as if I’d played a full 80. The physicality wasn’t the surprising aspect, although I wasn’t throwing my weight around, I thought I coped reasonably well. But I’d get to a break down and be five minutes late.”
That won’t happen in Italy tomorrow as Petrarca Padova stand in Worcester’s way at the beginning of their European Challenge Cup campaign.
He will start for the second time in succession and will endeavour to help Warriors go one better than they did last season.
Beyond that, his aspirations take on a white hue. “I have taken a gap year with the intention of concentrating on the England Under-20s,” he says. “I have deferred a place at Loughborough University and want to play more Under-20s. I played a bit last year but because of my exams I couldn’t go to the World Cup.”
Such considerations will be far from Kitchener’s mind this season, the outstanding second row is set for much more testing times.