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The Adventures of Sinbad, with Gloucester Rugby's James Simpson-Daniel

By The Citizen  |  Posted: April 09, 2014

Comments (1)

For some, Bath is the pinnacle, the single most-important game... ever:

Unfortunately the rugby on Sunday was horrendous.

Everyone at the club shares in that feeling and that first half against Wasps was as bad as we have seen in a long time.

I thought we had turned the corner. We had performed like that earlier in the season but, as I had written in previous columns, we were looking much more solid.

But to play in the manner we did in the first 50 or so minutes is extremely disappointing and once again there are no excuses.

The coaches managed the week in the right way, the players weren’t overloaded and it was hoped the boys would come out firing on the pitch, but it just didn’t happen.

The intensity and physicality just wasn’t there. Being very basic, the fundamental aspect of rugby is running at the person opposite you as hard as you can and that didn’t happen.

You could feel the pain around everyone on Monday – it really wasn’t a nice atmosphere – but everyone also knows there is a big chance to address that against Bath.

It’s a short turnaround and when the guys come back in on Thursday, we can’t be looking back and instead we must be very much focused on what lies ahead.

It’s the biggest game of the season and if you are not having a good campaign and are not successful that is the one game the supporters really care about, especially at Kingsholm.

I have lost at home to Bath in the past and it really hurts but I’ve also experienced plenty of highs against our great rivals.

One is when we beat them down there, where we don’t have a particularly good record but we managed to get the win on a wet and miserable day. We just put the ball in the air, piled into them and Mike Tindall had an absolute blinder.

The other standout game was just after the Hong Kong Sevens in 2002, we recorded a big win against a good Bath side and I managed to score a hat-trick of tries. The Shed went absolutely mad and it meant just as much to me.

Making a good start will be absolutely vital on Saturday. The boys need to get a passionate sold-out crowd behind them.

If we don’t do that, things might get a little bit nervous and Bath will thrive upon that on that and their confidence will grow.

The last thing we want after such a disappointing result in Europe is another defeat, especially against Bath, and a win would do a huge amount for morale.

But one thing that is absolutely essential is that the boys put in a display full of passion, intensity and all those things to put some pride back in the jersey

For some players this is as far as it goes. They will not play international rugby and they have to realise games like this could be the pinnacle – their England versus Wales.

If you are born and bred in the area you know exactly what this derby means and I learnt that very quickly when I joined the club. Hopefully we have passed it on and they will get a real feel for it as the week goes on.

They will be stopped wherever they go and hopefully the boys selected will give the supporters something of which to be proud.

We could have been more proud of Monbeg Dude:

There was a lot of talk about a dream double last weekend but unfortunately it didn’t come to fruition.

I was absolutely delighted with Monbeg Dude’s run in the Grand National and it was a fantastic race.

Throughout all the build-up I was saying that I just wanted the horse to get around safe because it can be absolute carnage.

Even this week guys like Jimmy Cowan and Huia Edmonds, who have not seen it before, have said how they could not believe how brutal it was.

The Dude was running an absolute blinder and with two fences to go his jockey Paul Carberry thought he was going to win, but when it came down to it he didn’t quite have the stamina.

There are no excuses, there’s no hard-luck story and he didn’t get hampered and lose momentum because of another horse.

It was a good ride and he tried his heart out but in the end it wasn’t enough.

After he’d run the four-and-a-half miles we took him back to wash him down and he was swaying where he stood, which shows what an honest horse he is and how he left everything out there.

This week has obviously been a lot quieter. It was an incredibly nervous build-up to the race and the 24 hours before were very intense with a lot of interviews and other requests. It was on the same scale as the build-up to my first England game.

Every channel we put on in the morning was talking about the Grand National, but it was brilliant that it lived up to its billing.

It was also great to see there were no casualties in the race, which is great for the sport and meant it was a classic for all the right reasons.

I am inching my way back to full fitness:

Finally, my rehab is continuing at a slow but steady pace following the latest operation.

I had a test at the end of last week, which showed a two-centimetre gain in my range of movement.

That might not sound like a lot but when you are recovering from a long-term injury, every little bit of progress is gratefully received.

I have been on the sidelines since November and it feels like I have been out of action for eight months rather than just over four.

So I am inching closer and closer to a return and getting back to running will be the big hurdle.

My progress will hopefully continue, albeit at a slow pace, until then, at which point things will start flying by.

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  • walker1305  |  April 10 2014, 6:52PM

    The best way of beating Bath is for the club to ensure that Rupҽrt Hardҽn, our best and most talented tight head prop, gets onto the pitch ASAP and for him to play as long as possible.

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