Van Velze calls for Grif­fiths to steady ship at War­riors

The Rugby Paper - - News - ■ By NEALE HAR­VEY

WORCES­TER No.8 GJ Van Velze is de­mand­ing sta­bil­ity at the club – and reck­ons for­mer con­sul­tant Ed­ward Grif­fiths is just the man to pro­vide it.

Grif­fiths, the ar­chi­tect of Sara­cens’ re­mark­able rise, left his back­room role at Sixways last month but is be­lieved to be lead­ing a con­sor­tium aim­ing to take charge of the club.

Worces­ter have been through four rugby di­rec­tors in four years – Richard Hill, Dean Ryan, Carl Hogg and Gary Gold – and with Gold leav­ing next sum­mer, an­other pe­riod of up­heaval is likely as a third rel­e­gaend tion to the Cham­pi­onship looms.

Van Velze, re­cently re­turned from a year out with con­cus­sion, told The

Rugby Pa­per: “Ed­ward Grif­fiths is a dif­fer­ent in­di­vid­ual who’s not ev­ery­one’s cup of tea, but he un­der­stands rugby and what makes play­ers tick.

“If Worces­ter are se­ri­ous about some­one in that po­si­tion, I think it will have to be a key in­di­vid­ual, like Ed­ward, who thinks out­side the box and who is dif­fer­ent to what you’ll nor­mally find in a pro­fes­sional rugby club.”

Van Velze added: “What is key from Worces­ter’s point of view is sta­bil­ity. I signed for Dean Ryan in 2014 and there was a fiveyear plan which was the goal in terms of con­sis­tency of a play­ing group and man­age­ment. That didn’t hap­pen, so whether you’re a Worces­ter sup­porter, academy kid or a se­nior player, this place is gag­ging for sta­bil­ity at the top level and a long-term plan that ac­tu­ally sticks.

“I’ve been optimistic about Worces­ter from day one and al­ways will be be­cause I can see what this place can do – the sup­port base and fa­cil­i­ties.

“If you look at Ex­eter and Sara­cens you can see what’s achiev­able with con­sis­tency, but it’s peo­ple in higher places that make those de­ci­sions and that’s what they must do.”

Van Velze, 29, is six games into a re­mark­able play­ing come­back af­ter spend­ing al­most all of last sea­son out with con­cus­sion symp­toms fol­low­ing an open­ing day col­li­sion with Sara­cens back rower Michael Rhodes.

He said: “It’s def­i­nitely a shock to the sys­tem and it takes me a day or two more to feel nor­mal again, but I’d rather have that prob­lem than not play at all.

“I’m at a stage where if I’m not right I won’t play rugby. I love this game, but if I find I can’t get through play­ing 80 min­utes weekin, week-out or I start suf­fer­ing symp­toms, it’s no use me try­ing to play again.

“Up un­til now I’ve been fine, but I will play ev­ery game as if it’s my last and I’m en­joy­ing be­ing back.”

Van Velze used his long lay-off to de­velop farm­ing and busi­ness in­ter­ests, ex­plain­ing: “I started sheep farm­ing as a hobby with a neigh­bour and we sell pro­duce lo­cally, while the busi­ness ven­ture is with shoes – Van Velze & Smith.

“For ev­ery leather boot we sell, I’ll give away a pair of rugby boots through coach­ing clin­ics to as­pir­ing kids in South Africa.”

War­rior: GJ Van Velze

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