Van Velze: Worcester are no whipping boys

  • Van Velze excited for O'Callaghan combination
  • Warriors captain looking forward to Matfield clash

Worcester Warriors skipper Geerit Jan Van Velze has backed his newly-promoted squad to avoid a woeful season like the one London Welsh suffered ahead of their opening Aviva Premiership match against Northampton Saints on Friday evening.

The South African No 8 is looking forward to working with the likes of Ireland veteran Donncha O’Callaghan but believes his young teammates can thrive at the top level.

“If we keep on turning up each week and moving, keep on learning and improving the chances of being more successful will be better,” said Van Velze about their comparison to London Welsh.

“But you never know with sport, it’s not like business where you employ somebody or invent something and it works, it’s not guaranteed.”

Worcester were relegated from the Premiership in 2014 but jumped back into the top flight at the first time of asking with a dramatic 59-58 win against Bristol over two legs in the Greene King IPA Championship final.

The Warriors will launch the campaign when they host last season’s runners-up Northampton in the opening fixture of 2015/6.

Their skipper highlighted the importance of New Zealand-born wings Cooper Vuna and Bryce Heem for the long-running performance and success of the squad.

Van Velze then added: “Playing in the Championship for 12 months we had the opportunity to make some mistakes, learn from those mistakes out of the spotlight

“Now our hard work has paid off and we’ve been rewarded by being back in the Premiership.”

Van Velze joined Worcester in the summer of 2014 following two years at Northampton Saints.

He also enjoyed previous spells at the Bulls, making his Super Rugby debut in 2010 and playing alongside Springbok legend Victor Matfield.

“I’m looking forward to playing against him because he’s always been one of my role models I looked up to when I was younger.

“Eventually I got the opportunity to play alongside him, so now that I have the chance to compete with him it’s going to be awesome.”

Worcester Warriors take on Northampton Saints at Sixways on Friday 16 October at 7.45pm