Andy Symons: Worcester Warriors centre comes back even fitter

Worcester Warriors centre Andy Symons
Worcester Warriors centre Andy Symons was injured during last term's Championship promotion run-in

Worcester Warriors centre Andy Symons says he has come back feeling even fitter following eight months out with a knee injury.

Symons, 24, made his return in Thursday's 34-22 European Challenge Cup home defeat by Gloucester.

He found himself up against fellow centre Henry Trinder, who shared the same reconditioning camp in the United States, in Philadelphia.

"I feel great - even better than I did before my injury," he told BBC Sport.

"All credit to the physios for that. And I went over to America for three weeks to see Bill Knowles, who is a rehab specialist.

"I trained together with Henry for a week and it was hard work. They're pretty intensive training camps out there."

After taking two months longer then expected to return from his anterior cruciate ligament injury, Symons was satisfied with his own efforts as a much-changed side lost to a strong Gloucester outfit.

But, after losing out in Parma to Zebre in their first Pool 4 match, it does leave Warriors with an uphill battle to qualify from their group.

Warriors, who have used the Challenge Cup largely to give their fringe players a game, lie third in the table.

They are level on four points with second-placed Zebre, but nine behind Gloucester.

To stand any chance of qualifying, they must win at Kingsholm in the return game with Gloucester on Thursday, 17 December, and hope that the Cherry and Whites slip up when they go to Italy in late January.

Andy Symons' first-team hopes

Symons does have the extra string to his bow of being a goal-kicker. He was Warriors' top scorer last season, amassing 115 points in 17 Championship appearances, most of them with the boot.

But he recognises that he has a job on getting past current first-choice centres Ryan Mills and Wynand Olivier into Worcester's regular Premiership side, with added competition from two more centres - fit-again Max Stelling and long-serving Alex Grove.

"Our centres are in such good form it will be hard to get back in," Symons told BBC Hereford & Worcester. "It's a box ticked but it's only a stepping stone.

"I'm pleased to have blown off a few cobwebs but, from a team point of view, it was frustrating."

Warriors head coach Carl Hogg added: "It was great to see him back out there. He looks in great nick. He's obviously got that physical presence and a couple of weeks of being back in the saddle will benefit him.

"We're trying to grow competition across the whole group, from the front row to the back three. Guys like Andy, Ryan Mills, Ryan Lamb and Tom Heathcote are all vying for positions and that's healthy."