Schofield: Now or never for Warriors
August 9, 2012
Dean Schofield in action for Toulon © PA Photos
New Worcester Warriors skipper Dean Schofield has called on his side to end their flirtation with the foot of the Aviva Premiership table ahead of the new campaign.
Worcester have finished in the bottom three in five of their seven seasons in the Premiership and Schofield, who helped Sale win the league back in 2006, believes it is now or never for his charges. With Richard Hill bolstering his coaching staff with Phil Vickery and Nigel Redman and the playing personnel also undergoing mass change, Schofield believes that Worcester are now in the ideal position to climb up the table.
"We have got to try and move away from the bottom three mentality and it's about getting that over to the players," Schofield told ESPN. "We don't want to be a bottom three club. It's about time Worcester moved on. We have a new coaching staff and lots of new players so now is the time to do it. If we don't do it now then I don't know when.
"I'm not one for banging a drum saying we'll be in the top four but it's important that we get that message across to everyone that we are moving forwards and out of the bottom three. If we get some form on the pitch then we'll be up there."
Worcester were captained by fullback Chris Pennell last term but Hill has opted to turn to Schofield as his skipper for this season. With two England caps to his name and 162 Premiership appearances, Schofield will bring a wealth of experience to the role and he admits that he didn't have to think long when Hill offered him the captain's armband.
"It wasn't something we spoke about when I was in contract talks with Worcester, I just wanted to come down and play really," Schofield said. "But two weeks into pre-season, Hilly dragged me into the office and asked if I wanted to take on the captaincy. I didn't really give it a second's thought as it was an absolute honour to take on the role. It's something I've been used to at Sale and Toulon so it was a fairly short conversation.
"It was a gut feeling for me. The fact I haven't been here long doesn't make a difference. It's a new coaching set-up here and they had a big personnel change in the summer so there's a new feeling around the club. There's no point in waiting around and umming and ahing."
Schofield arrived at Worcester from Toulon where he spent two years with the French giants. Previous to his sojourn in the Top 14 Orange, the lock was on Sale's books for nine years and he was tipped to potentially return to the Sharks but he revealed that he "never had that conversation with Sale".
While at Toulon he played alongside a myriad of stars with Jonny Wilkinson, Matt Giteau and ex-Sale team-mate Juan Fernandez Lobbe all turning out for during his time there. And Schofield admits that playing alongside the likes of Bakkies Botha and Simon Shaw was also a valuable lesson.
Schofield back in his Sale days © Getty Images
"They're both outstanding second-rows. Bakkies doesn't speak much and does what he does really well. He loves rucking and that was one thing I noticed about him straight away. He's not really interested in carrying, for him it's all about getting quick ball. That was something I tried to emulate.
"Simon Shaw is 39-year-old and is an absolute true professional. He's had such longevity in his career and that could be down to how much he trains. He's super professional and keeps his body in decent nick. You pick up the odd bits here and there off players like that and it's an absolute honour to play alongside chaps like that."
With some tipping Schofield, who's now 33, for a return to the international scene under Stuart Lancaster, it seems likely, however, that he will not be turning out for England in the near future.
"I've had no chats with Stuart Lancaster. They've got a young team and I wish them all the best of luck. Sure, I'd love to get back into the mix but I'm focused on playing at Worcester and that's my priority."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Tom Hamilton is the Assistant Editor of ESPNscrum.