'It's that going to war mindset': Worcester hit out at complacency
Jonathan Thomas has made a startling observation about his Worcester team, suggesting that a club with just a single win on the pitch in the Gallagher Premiership since last November somehow suffered from “a small form of complacency” in last weekend’s derby loss at home to Worcester. The Warriors broke their long barren, winless run with a start-of-campaign success over London Irish, but they have since lost to Harlequins and Gloucester.
While the loss away to the defending champions in London was accompanied by a battling performance that netted two bonus points to give them a seven-points-from-ten tally for the season after two games, this Worcester momentum was brutally checked by their 31-23 Premiership defeat to Gloucester, a team that came into round three of the league on the back of two defeats.
The outcome left Thomas bruised and very busy at the Worcester training ground this week in the hope that a far better performance materialises this Saturday away to Exeter, a team likely to feast on any sense of vulnerability shown by the club that finished the 2020/21 season at the bottom of the table.
“Why weren’t we on it? You could argue it was a slight form of complacency which clearly shouldn’t have been the case – we had only played two games and we’d won one and lost one,” reflected Thomas, who has just started his first full season as Worcester head coach having only stepped into the role last January and overhauled the squad he inherited. “I know it was seven out of ten points but you could argue we thought everything was hunky and rosy and Gloucester, off the back of two losses, maybe there was a subconscious complacency from our players. I don’t know.”
Asked by RugbyPass to elaborate on what the signs of incriminating Worcester complacency were visible in their third outing in the new Premiership campaign, Thomas continued: “Complacency is a subjective thing. Our players trained well last week, they have got a massive intent and desire to do well for the club but when you look at the game in terms of certain acts such as linespeed, collisions, 50/50s in the air, 50/50s on the floor, a lot of the scraps you usually find in the derby game, Gloucester won quite a few of those.
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“That brings you as a coach to a summary that they [Gloucester] just wanted it that little bit more and where it is a learning for our players is the game is always about being in the right place emotionally and being physical. It doesn’t matter what style of game you play, wherever you are in the world, whatever opponent, you have got to emotionally be in the right place and be physical and have a real intent around your mindset. I’m not saying we didn’t have that, I am just saying they had that a little bit more so we have just got to make sure we are really hungry every single time we play, every single time we go on the field.
“It has been a good pre-season, we have had a reasonable start to the season and it is just a little kick up the backside for us. In any game in this league, you can get humbled by any team and that is a harsh reminder for us. There is absolutely no way you ever go into a game with thoughts of complacency but I always found it fascinating in the old format of the Heineken Cup where you got those back-to-back games in December, you play home and away and there were so many occasions where a team that won away from home then lost at home the following week. You just look at that and go, ‘How the hell has that happened?’
“It’s all about mindset and not getting complacent and it’s about being always on edge and that mindset that you are going to war. It’s that going to war mindset – you have to have that at all times and Gloucester, off the back of two losses, were clearly unbelievably hungry for that game. You can talk about tactical and technical parts of the game but the reality is the game sits with the mindset and we need to take our learnings from that and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
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