CHRIS Pennell is keeping his fingers crossed long-time team-mate Jonny Arr will land a new contract at Worcester Warriors but realises the “brutal nature of professional sport”.

The two Sixways stalwarts have stuck by the club through thick and thin since making their debuts 12 years ago and are among a select group of four players that have made more than 200 appearances in blue and gold.

But while Pennell secured a new two-year deal in January, Arr’s future remains in doubt with his current contract due to expire this summer.

Worcester-born scrum-half Arr, 30, has played 217 games for Warriors, 119 of those coming in the Premiership, but has been on the fringes of the first team this season.

Full-back Pennell, 31, said he would be “surprised” if there were not top clubs looking at the “quality” number nine but hoped boss Alan Solomons would retain Arr’s services.

“Jonny is a huge asset to the club and has been unbelievable for us for many years,” Pennell said.

“For any local lad that has come right the way through the system (the club) means a huge amount to them.

“He is a top man and I think the biggest thing with Jonny is everything that he offers off the pitch as well.

“This is professional sport and it’s a tough environment. It goes to show how quickly things can change and move on.”

Arr, a former Royal Grammar School Worcester pupil, joined the club’s mini and juniors section at the age of seven.

He helped the club gain promotion from the Championship in 2011 and 2015 and enjoyed his testimonial year last season.

“Jonny has been here for an awful long time and this is always a tough time of year,” Pennell said.

“At the end of the day you have got to recognise the brutal nature of professional sport.

“It could be any of us at any point.

“Fingers crossed, things will get sorted but you just never know. You can never count your chickens in this game.”

Pennell and Arr have seen many of the club’s “unbelievably talented” academy graduates leave over the past decade but the pair were determined to “break the mould”.

“Jonny and I had the same mind-set,” Pennell said.

“Someone had to put their foot down and say ‘Actually if we stick it out, work hard and try to build something who is to say that you can’t achieve what you want to by staying at Worcester’.

“Hopefully our decision-making to stick with the club through thick and thin can rub off on any of our youngsters and even some older boys like Niall Annett, Ryan Mills and Nick Schonert.

“If we are able to keep those boys together imagine what it would be like in four years’ time, playing in the Premiership, turning those tight games into victories and sitting in mid-table. It will be a really exciting place to be.

“From there everything snowballs.”