JONATHAN Thomas says the new crop of players at Worcester Warriors are driven by their hunger to prove their worth.

At 31, the Welsh international number eight, Warriors’ captain last season, is one of the elder statesmen of a squad that has a youthful look to it following director of rugby Dean Ryan’s recruitment programme.

A large proportion are now under the age of 25, including the front row trio of Nick Schonert, Niall Annett and Ryan Bower and wing Sam Smith.

Even seasoned campaigners, number eight GJ Van Velze, and wing Tom Biggs, and Argentina skipper Agustin Creevy and ex-Cardiff Blues back-rower Andries Pretorius, are under 30.

But Thomas reckons that can only be good for the Sixways club as they seek to stamp their authority on the Greene King IPA Championship, starting with tomorrow weeks curtain-raiser at Bristol.

He said: “It’s made me feel even older with all these young guys coming in but what I’ve noticed is they’re all hugely driven and all really ambitious.

“A lot of them have got chips on their shoulders and points to prove which is really good, it’s what you want from young players.

“There are guys that have come from Championship clubs that are wanting their shot at the big time and they really want to impress.

“There are other guys that have come from other Premiership clubs where they haven’t played as much as they wanted and they’ve got chips on their shoulders, they want to show what they can do. I think that’s really healthy.”

He continued: “Then there’s the guys who are left, like myself, who are really disappointed with last season and want to get the club back into Premiership rugby.

“What you’ve got is a lot of players that are motivated and hungry and hopefully we can show that in our performances.”

Meanwhile, Warriors have launched a half-time kicking challenge at home games.

Three fans will take eight kicks from the 22-metre line and the supporter converting the most wins £50 of vouchers to spend at Sixways. To take part, email