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IT'S MAKE OR BREAK TIME FOR KIWI ACE; GEAR'S GOT ONE GAME LEFT TO SECURE HIS WARRIORS FUTURE.

Byline: BRIAN DICK

WORRIED Worcester wing Rico Gear admits he has just one game left to save his Warriors career.

The former All Black was the most high-profile recruit in club history when he arrived at Sixways just over two years ago.

But his stay with Mike Ruddock's men has been blighted by injuries and inconsistent performances. Especially troublesome has been the hamstring problem that left him operating at just 85 per cent for all of last season.

That contributed to a failure to recapture the form that made him one of the highest paid players in the Premiership when the director of rugby brought Gear from Super 14 powerhouse Crusaders.

As a result Ruddock publicly stated Gear had a run of three league matches to prove his worth and earn the right to stay in the Midlands beyond the end of the current campaign.

The first was Boxing Day's disappointing defeat at home to Northampton. Gear did reasonably well, making some big tackles and a sparkling first half break that should have brought a try.

Yesterday's appointment at Gloucester was the second and next Saturday's visit from London Irish is his third.

After that Ruddock will decide whether to award the 31-year-old another deal.

"As I saw it Mike Ruddock gave me a three-game window to prove myself," Gear said. "I am not sure where he is at with that.

"I have got one game left to see if I can get another contract by the sounds of it.

"I have to realise that I have got to perform, that's great. That's why I play and that's the pressure I'm after. I'll just get on with it."

For his part Gear would love to stay at Worcester.

He is driven by a desire to be part of the first Worcester team to finish in the top half of the Premiership. It is an ambition he feels is realistic.

"If it was an option for me to stay I would seriously look at it," he said.

"I have been impressed with the changes that have happened since I have been here, the players we have got and the depth we have built up.

"It seems like we are just around the corner from producing consistent performances and taking that next step.

"We have got a fantastic fan base here, probably the best supporters in the country, I feel.

"It's just nice to be part of something like that."

And it also helps that his family have settled well.

While some imports fail to adapt to life in the UK, Gear and his family - wife Taina and two sons - have not found it a problem.

Whaimauri was one-year-old when Gear arrived and his second child Taimanaaki was born earlier this year.

"It's worked well off the pitch," he said. "It's pretty easy going with my family, I can just concentrate on the rugby.

"You can't come over expecting the same things you had back in New Zealand.

From that point of view the club has been really helpful."

Dream And for that he wants to repay them by realising Cecil Duckworth's dream.

One day he envisages returning to New Zealand to play club rugby.

But before that he has unfinished business at Sixways.

"My career is on the back nine, or even back two," he admits.

"But I would like to have the opportunity to get our club into the top six. We are only one win away from locking on to that position. That makes these next few games even more important.

"We don't want to leave it too late. We need to get on with it now and set ourselves up for the back part of the season.

"That sets us up for the Heineken Cup which everyone has aspirations for.

"That's definitely my goal as well. I really want to push for that." But to do that Worcester are going to have to start scoring tries.

Going into yesterday's clash at Kingsholm, Warriors had the worst strike rate of any team in the top flight.

Eleven games have brought just nine tries.

And no Worcester player has crossed the whitewash in the Premiership since Callum Black, more than two months ago.

"Four to five weeks ago there was quite a negative worldwide reaction to the breakdown law.

"A lot of teams like Saracens for instance had a strong kicking game and relied on that to get them to the top of the table.

"We followed suit a little bit, came up with a few draws and were not doing a lot of attacking, which was a bit frustrating.

"We were getting draws with some of the top sides so we were there or thereabouts.

"But you have seen recently with some of the Heineken Cup games and even some in the Premiership everyone seems to have changed their attitude and just get on with the job.

"We tried to do that against Northampton and we looked reasonably dangerous.

"But we haven't played like that for a long time. I guess it was the first step to the way we want to play."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Jan 3, 2010
Words:854
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