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Ryan Lamb aims to sizzle for Dean Ryan this time

Ryan LambRyan Lamb admits his ambitious style of play may have stunted what should have been a more fulfilling career in terms of international honours.

But the maverick fly-half insists he will stay true to his attacking instincts as he attempts to lead Worcester back to the Premiership at the first attempt.

As the natural successor to  French out-half Ludovic Mercier, gifted playmaker Lamb appeared to have the world at his feet when he helped steer home town club Gloucester to European Challenge Cup final glory in 2006.

The Cherry & Whites followed-up by topping the Premiership table twice, but  failed to nail down the silverware and, as questions swirled over Lamb’s ability to manage big games, a fall-out with boss Dean Ryan led to his departure in 2009.

Spells at London Irish, Northampton and Leicester followed, with varying degrees of success, but the overriding feeling remains that he should have achieved more. For his part, Lamb ponders the question and tends to agree.

“I’ve always liked to play and have always believed in being true to myself,” he told The Rugby Paper. “I was probably quite naive when I was younger with the way I was playing, in that I was quite open and tried to run everything.

“I have developed my game-management in that sense, but I do like to attack and that’s what fans want to see. They want flowing rugby and that’s how I’ve always tried to play, right from being a young lad in the Gloucester academy.

“I’m disappointed I didn’t get an England cap, especially in my younger years when I was playing my best rugby but couldn’t force my way in.

“I must be one of the most capped Saxons players ever, but maybe internationally they do like a more conservative No.10 who’s an 80 or 90 per cent goal-kicker, so my style might have worked against me, but I want to stay true to myself.

“If I look back, I don’t really have any regrets with what I’ve done. I’ve played Heineken Cup rugby in nine of the 10 years I’ve been a pro and while I’d have liked to have got more England honours, it’s not something you can easily break into.

“I’ve been around the top four in the Premiership with every team I’ve been in and played in massive games, so I haven’t done badly. I’m only 28 and have good years left, so hopefully I can perform at Worcester and get back up there.”

The irony, of course, is that Lamb finds himself serving once again under Ryan, the man who famously created headlines such as ‘Lamb slaughtered/roasted/sacrificed’ prior to his departure from Gloucester.

“It wasn’t as bad as everyone made out,” Lamb insists. “Towards the end of my Gloucester career Dean wanted to go in a different direction and, as a local lad having been there eight years, it was time for me to try something different as well.

“It worked out for me in a way because I really enjoyed myself at London Irish and Northampton, but when I had the chance to rejoin Dean last season and heard his vision for Worcester, it made a  sense to work under him again.

“Dean is still the best coach I’ve played under and towards the end of last season we were playing some really good stuff.”

Like many, Lamb questions the vagaries of the Championship play-offs. But if Worcester can negotiate their way through the end-of-season minefield, he is in no doubt that the Sixways outfit can make an impact in the top-flight. He added: The potential of this club is unbelievable and if we can win promotion it will be happy days. The foundations are in place, we’ve got a new, young squad and it’s really refreshing to be around.

“In terms of what Worcester’s got as a club, everything points to it being a top four or six Premiership side – we just need to get there.”

NEALE HARVEY

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