Premiership injuries: Rugby World Cup had big impact - Worcester CEO Jim O'Toole

Worcester captain GJ van Velze
Worcester captain GJ van Velze has not played since going off with concussion in the opening game of the season against Saracens

Worcester chief executive Jim O'Toole believes "fatigued" Premiership players are still feeling the effects of the congested fixture schedule created by the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Struggling Warriors have made five short-term signings because of an injury list which, at one point, ruled 15 first-teamers out of contention.

"One of the hot topics is the number of injuries we've had," he told BBC Sport.

"Last year's condensed Rugby World Cup season has taken its toll."

O'Toole continued: "The Premiership became seven months instead of nine and we had that unprecedented run of 10 games in a row.

"That took a lot out of players. The season finished, then we were supposed to be straight into the timetable of a regular season. Across the league players are fatigued and, when you're fatigued, that's when injuries kick in.

"We've had injuries this season but everybody else has too. In fairness to the guys here in our medical team at Sixways, my peers across the league are telling me it's the same everywhere and they're all getting the same trend.

"The problem is that we may not have as strong a squad as some of the other clubs on our radar and we pay the price of that."

Where are Worcester Warriors right now?

While Worcester have had more than their fair share of injuries, and were disrupted by director of rugby Dean Ryan's sudden summer departure, the club will go into 2017 in a positive state of mind.

They have won only once in 10 Premiership games, but drew at home to Gloucester and Sale and lost narrowly to Northampton, when they scored two tries and were beaten only by the boot of Stephen Myler.

And it was a big lift when their young, inexperienced side came from behind to beat Newport Gwent Dragons in the European Challenge Cup on 10 December.

"We're more or less where we expected to be," said O'Toole. "Perhaps a little bit off the pace. Our goal for the season was improvement on last year.

"But, given the slight turmoil we had at the beginning of the season with the change of director of rugby in fairly abrupt fashion, we'd probably have said 10th wouldn't be a failure and ninth would be a success.

"With only 11 other clubs, there's no hiding place in this Premiership. It's not like Championship football, where there are 24 clubs and you can pick multiple teams off.

"But we're making progress. The advantage of all the injuries is that, over the first half of the season, the younger guys have benefited hugely.

"Jamie Shillcock has had more opportunities than he'd have expected, Josh Adams has come in on the wing and the likes of Andrew Kitchener and Huw Taylor have done well in the pack. You can only give opportunities if you have the talent, and our academy has already started to deliver over the last few years."