Jonathan Thomas 'excited' to be back at Worcester Warriors as forwards coach
Jonathan Thomas is excited to be back at Sixways having started work as Worcester Warriors’ forwards coach.
The former Wales flanker – capped 67 times by his country – ended his playing career with Warriors almost five years ago and has since made the successful transition to coaching with Bristol Bears.
Thomas, 37, has been recruited by Warriors’ director of rugby Alan Solomons as part of a new-look coaching team which includes scrum coach and assistant forwards coach Mark Irish – who has also moved from Bristol – and former Wales and Ospreys backs coach Matt Sherratt, who has rejoined Warriors as attack and backs coach.
All three have started work at Sixways, which means a change in travel routine for former Warriors captain Thomas.
“I’m hugely excited to be back. I have lived in Worcestershire for the last seven years, ever since I played for Warriors,” Thomas said.
“For the last four years I have been getting on to the M5 at junction nine and turning south so it was a bit of a strange feeling turning north.
“But it’s great to be back. There still some familiar faces, some have moved on obviously.
“There’s a lot that’s changed, a lot that’s stayed the same but it’s really good to be back here.
“When Alan Solomons first spoke to me and explained the vision and plans he has for Worcester I was really excited.
“Worcester have been a tough Premiership team to play against for the past few years.
“When you look at the representation at Under-20 level the club has had and the volume of exciting youngsters coming through to complement the existing senior players it’s just a really exciting time for the club.
"I regard myself as a Worcestershire person. My family love the area and are settled here, my kids the kids love the school they are at.
“In some ways it was a difficult decision because I relay enjoyed my time at Bristol and I was pretty happy there but when I weighed it all up, family life and also work life, it was an exciting opportunity to come back here.”
Thomas previously worked with Solomons when Warriors’ director of rugby had a stint as coaching consultant at Bristol four years ago and the opportunity to work with familiar faces was another factor in his decision to return to Sixways.
“The three new coaches all know each other. Obviously me and Mark Irish have worked closely together at Bristol for the last three years.
“We have a very good working relationship and we both coach in the forwards so having that synergy of message and coaching is very important.
“Whilst I have not worked with Matt Sherratt I know him pretty well. The Welsh lads that he’s coached that I know speak very highly of him.
“He’s a quality coach so there is going to be some good harmony there and some good banter.
“I worked with Solly before when he came into Bristol in my first season there. I’ve got a huge amount of respect for Solly and his experience in the game.
“He’s a man of integrity. In terms of someone who is your boss you want someone who, as well as being is a leader of men, is a good person as well and Solly is certainly that.
“I am really excited for what lies ahead.”
Warriors players are in their third week of training since the coronavirus lockdown regulations were relaxed to allow training in small groups.
Premiership Rugby has set a target date of the weekend of August 14 and 15 for a resumption of the 2019/20 season.
A schedule has yet to be announced but Thomas is confident that Warriors will be well prepared for a return to action.
“It’s a challenge because you don’t know quite what the format is going to look like but we can’t be victims in all this. We have to be proactive and adaptable.
“We have to put plans in place but we have to understand that those plans might change. but if you are a good coach you have to be able to adapt.
“The thing we have talked about as coaches is, say, if you are an international coach going into an international team for the first time you only have two weeks to prepare for your first Six Nations game.
“We have potentially got five or six weeks. It is what it is and you have got to get on with it.
“We are fully prepared and we are just excited to get started. The format of the competition - who know what it will look like completely?
“But it’s really exciting to have the short window of pre-season and then get stuck in.
“It’s an exciting opportunity for everyone. It’s exciting for us as new coaches coming in.
“For new players there’s a blank sheet of paper for everyone in terms of those guys having the opportunity to impress.
“When this season does resume there is no relegation so it’s an opportunity to play with some ambition and see where it takes us.”
Photo caption: Jonathan Thomas.