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'I'm not signing him... you need lads who are hard cases'

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

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Worcester boss Steve Diamond has dismissed speculation that they are in the market to sign Fijian lock Leone Nakarawa from Toulon, revealing instead that he hopes to get the signature overnight of a Kiwi second row to complete the Warriors’ recruitment ahead of the 2022/23 season. The incoming director of rugby has been busy overhauling his squad while in his current role lead rugby consultant prior to the imminent departure of Alan Solomons. 

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Diamond claimed on Tuesday that he has managed to sign every single one of the players he wanted to recruit, adding that there was one piece of the puzzle left to confirm and that it wouldn’t be Nakarawa who was linked with the club who have so far snapped up Italian duo Hame Faiva and Renato Giammarioli, Russian Valeriy Morozov, Sale pair Curtis Langdon and Cam Neild, and Australian Fergus Lee-Warner. 

“The people who are joining us, most of them have been around the building this week to find apartments and houses in the locality all understand the job in the hand, which is to get Worcester to be highly competitive,” explained Diamond at his media briefing ahead of Saturday’s final outing in the 2021/22 Premiership. 

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“I have everyone (I wanted). I say everyone, but I have got to get the signature from a lock. When the signature from the lock comes up tonight then it will be announced this week sometime and then we are done. We’re done and we have got a highly competitive squad. I have grafted, I have found him and he looks to be a good player, so fingers crossed. It is not often I have done that, though, to be honest [recruited every player targeted].”

Asked if the signing would be Nakarawa, the veteran Fijian, Diamond said it wasn’t. “Well, firstly he is a wonderful player, Secondly, I am not signing him. I put out a remit to myself when I came here that to get them [Worcester] where I want them over the next twelve months, not the next three years – I don’t need to say it needs three years to turn this ship around, all that normal rubbish you hear from people who have got a job for three years.

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“My job is to turn Worcester around quickly and to do that you need lads who are hard cases, who are the right age and who are the right experience so the lock who will be coming in is a Kiwi, he is 26, 27 years of age, I won’t tell you his name yet because he might not sign the contract but I’m pretty sure he will do, and he will fit the same bill as Curtis Langdon, as Fergus Lee-Warner, as Cam Neild, that crew who are not coming to bugger about.”

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Fresh from their recent Premiership Rugby Cup final win over London Irish, Diamond has huge ambitions for Worcester next season following a league campaign where they are bottom heading into this weekend’s final fixture at home to Bath.   

“I don’t think with the squad we have got I can say we can win the league if I am perfectly honest but what I can say is we will be highly competitive and if you are highly competitive at home and away then you can get bonus points if you win, lose or draw and the squad that has been put together will be given one target and the target is very, very simple, to get into the Heineken Cup. 

“We have never been in the Heineken Cup before so that is the target. If we finish first, eighth, sixth, or seventh I don’t care if I am honest, but that will be progression for us. There is not going o be this diatribe of shite about where we are going to end up and what position we are getting, it’s going to be let’s move the club forward, let’s qualify for the Heineken Cup competition and that will be a big leap forward after the Prem Cup. 

“The beauty of it now is when we do come back in all our new players will come in on the same day so there is a positive to the bonding of that sort of stuff. We won’t be going to fancy places in the summer, the Brecon Beacons aren’t too far away, we will see what this lot are like up there at night, staying on Andy Powell’s farm.”

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