THE battle for survival in the Gallagher Premiership “brings the best out of players” according to Worcester Warriors’ Springbok star Francois Venter.

The prospect of ring-fencing England’s top-flight competition remains a hot topic with Premiership Rugby set to hold a meeting with the Rugby Football Union in April over the future of the club game in England.

Warriors have been relegated twice in the past 10 years and while they have progressed to the knockout stages of the European Challenge Cup and Premiership Cup this season they hover one place above bottom club Newcastle Falcons.

The pressure of avoiding the drop is not something Venter is used to having previously played for Cheetahs in Super Rugby which is made up of 15 franchises.

Venter can see the “negative” side of a relegation scrap, admitting players are unable to take more risks on the field but believes it forces them to raise their game.

“The Premiership a tough competition,” Venter said.

“There is always a lot of pressure due to relegation and pressure on you to perform.

“In Super Rugby you know that you can throw everything out there and maybe take a chance.

“Whereas here there is always a response to your actions so you can’t just take chances — it’s almost like Test rugby.

“You can see it as a negative and a positive.

“With that pressure it forces everybody to be better.”

Warriors rose to as high as sixth in late November but are now four points clear of the danger zone after 12 games. “I think Super Rugby is also a top competition as you play with a bit more freedom and take a few more chances,” Venter continued.

“Here, relegation is at the back of your mind the whole time but for me I will take it as a positive.

“I like the pressure and I feel that it is more like playing international rugby and hopefully I can still get that chance (with South Africa).

“It brings the best out of the players.”

Venter said he was also benefitting from having breaks in the season as he made his first outing since Warriors’ win over Bath in early January when he started against Wasps last Sunday.

The 27-year-old, who has made 15 outings this term, has also been rested this weekend, missing last night’s Premiership Cup semi-final against Saracens as he prepares for the league trip to Harlequins next Saturday.

“In Super Rugby it’s 16 weeks on the trot,” Venter said.

“You get an international break but when you are involved with that you are still playing rugby.

“It’s just a bit more mentally tough.

“Solly (Alan Solomons, director of rugby) has managed us well so we had 10 days off away from the club (before the Wasps game) and that really helped us.

“Because the competition is so long and stretches over a year you need to be mentally fresh and ready to go every week.”

He added: “The vibe has picked up after the few wins we have had on the trot recently.

“After a rocky start we have pulled it back.

“There are still a lot of games to come and I think this is the most important part of the season.”