DIRECTOR of rugby Dean Ryan believes Worcester Warriors have retained the support of their fans despite dropping down into the Championship.

One of the worst seasons in recent memory resulted in Warriors winning just two of their 22 matches in the Premiership during 2013-14.

However, they improved significantly as the campaign progressed, paying the price for an atrocious start, and were widely praised for their efforts in the closing stages.

One of those occasions was the 28-27 final-day victory over fierce rivals Gloucester at Sixways, watched by a crowd just shy of 12,000.

Ryan, who has overhauled his squad with 17 summer signings, reckons fans could see that progression and will back the new-look Warriors in the Championship.

The Worcester boss said: “A winning team is an easier thing to support but I thought the fans were fantastic in terms of staying with us and understanding what we were doing.

“It’s pointless us all saying what we want but having no platform to go towards it because all you do is keep going round and round in circles.

“I think people understand what we need to do and I thought, towards the end of the season, people got behind the work ethic and commitment, which has been central.

“The Gloucester game at the end was not just the highlight of the season but the highlight for a long time of seeing people giving everything to a Worcester shirt.

“We want to make that more normal and I think people will get behind it and support it as they did last season.”

One of the new recruits is former Harlequins wing Sam Smith and he is equally convinced of the impact the supporters can have on Warriors.

He said: “They still had a strong fanbase last year and, despite the way things were going on the pitch, that shows the quality of fan we’ve got.

“If we can fill out Sixways every week by playing attractive, fast-flowing and exciting rugby and the fans really get behind us and start supporting us, then that’s going to be a huge boost for the lads.

“That will make us look forward to playing at home even more every week so it will be massive.”

The 24-year-old added: “I’ve played against Worcester and their fans have always been very vocal and loud so I think that always helps the boys.

“Hopefully, we can give them something to really cheer and get behind. They can help us build momentum as the season goes on as well.”

Warriors begin their pre-season friendlies at home to Ospreys on Friday (7.30pm).