DIRECTOR of rugby Alan Solomons is confident Worcester Warriors will keep hold of out-of-contract number eight Cornell du Preez.

Ten players have secured new deals in the past month and more are set to follow with Solomons aiming to complete the retention process “before the end of January”.

Du Preez, 28, is among those whose current contract expires in the summer of 2020 and will be allowed to talk to interested clubs from January 1.

But Solomons admits he is “not worried about” du Preez as the Scotland international looks set to remain at Warriors.

“Cornell is a guy that I would definitely like to see stay here,” Solomons said.

“He is as tough as nails, but his work rate has been excellent.

“He is an absolute natural rugby player. Him and Sammy Lewis are like backs.

“He is gifted physically. He is a strong man, but work rate is also important and I think he is having a massive impact on games.”

Signed from Edinburgh in 2018, du Preez’s playing career was almost ended on his Warriors debut when he sustained a serious throat injury against Wasps.

The back-row bruiser spent six weeks in hospital, four of those unable to speak, as he underwent operations to repair his fractured voice box.

But du Preez returned to action in March and has established himself as a key man in Warriors’ pack.

There have been injury setbacks with du Preez requiring eight stitches for a cut under his eye suffered at Castres and then having a tooth knocked out in training last week.

But on both occasions du Preez played in Worcester's upcoming game, demonstrating his mental and physical toughness.

“That was his fault for not wearing a gum guard,” said Solomons on du Preez’s lost tooth.

“He must have left it somewhere, but the physical stuff doesn’t worry him.

“I can assure you that he is a very tough man.

“I have coached him since he was 20.

“The first time he came across from Potchefstroom he had an ACL injury.

“That ankle injury he got in Edinburgh (in 2014) wasn’t pleasant either. He’s just tough and that’s the end of it.”

In October, Du Preez, who has started in all six of Warriors’ Gallagher Premiership matches this term, expressed his desire to extend his stay.

Asked how contract negotiations were going with du Preez, Solomons added: “I am not worried about Cornell.”

Ted Hill, Andrew Kitchener, Francois Venter, Nick Schonert, Sam Lewis, Anton Bresler, Ethan Waller, Gareth Simpson, Niall Annett and Isaac Miller have all committed their futures to Warriors.

But with the likes of du Preez, Marco Mama and Ashley Beck out of contract at the end of the season, Solomons still has work to do.

“Certainly within the next three to four weeks I am hoping we will complete that (contract) process which will be good,” Solomons said.

“It will be (finished) before we go on that break before the end of January.

“We have worked hard to get things done and it’s always a collective effort.

“I can’t stress enough that it is all about the team.”

On the number of players signing contract extensions, Solomons added: “I am over the moon about that.

“We are making really good progress and I am delighted with the progress that we are making.

“The most pleasing aspect is the keenness of the guys to extend and that is both the young players who are vital to our vision and our experienced players that have a lot to add.

“Guys like Niall, Ethan, Sharkey (Schonert), Bressy (Bresler), Sammy and Francois (have all re-signed).

“That’s great to see and there are others that will come through shortly.”