James Simpson-Daniel's weekly column: The Adventures of Sinbad.
Brought to you in association with rugby charity Wooden Spoon
GOING back to Wales means a great deal to Nigel Davies and Paul Moriarty.
It's a first coaching return to Wales since leaving the Scarlets for Nigel this weekend, when Gloucester take on the Ospreys in the LV=Cup.
Our defence coach Moriarty had a lengthy career with Swansea, so he will be back on familiar territory.
Nigel's son Sam now plays for the Ospreys and could play against Gloucester on Friday.
So there's plenty of reasons why this is a big game for them.
Both coaches have spoken openly and passionately about that this week – and they have also been clear about what challenge awaits at the Liberty Stadium.
The Ospreys are very strong at the breakdown.
We pride ourselves on our tackle-area prowess this season, we're pretty confident there – not cocky at all, but pleased with progress and with a good feeling about that generally.
Nigel showed us this week in our analysis sessions how strong the Ospreys were at the tackle area against Leinster recently.
It was pretty impressive.
We had a tough time against Leinster at the breakdown in pre-season – and we weren't even up against their full side.
So for the Ospreys to give them a real fight there against their strongest line-up, that speaks volumes on the challenge ahead.
All that does, though, is build the excitement.
It would be fantastic if we can go down there and get a result.
We had mixed feelings after the Harlequins game. We did well to drag ourselves back for a losing bonus-point at the death, but we didn't play very well and we never forced enough territory to get into our strike play often enough.
The LV=Cup might not be every club's top priority, but it's important to us. Aside from anything else, momentum is vital – we've got to get back to and then sustain winning ways – we host Sale at Kingsholm in our next Premiership game, after all.
NIGEL'S HONESTY HAS BEEN VERY REFRESHING FOR THE SQUAD
BEFORE announcing the squad to face Harlequins, Nigel Davies had a couple of other points of business for us last week.
He explained to the whole squad how this current LV=Cup fortnight would be a chance for him to take control of contract negotiations with players whose deals expire at the end of the season.
It was a massively reassuring move, to be frank.
He didn’t have to tell us that – but he made a point of it so that we know what’s going on and we’re up to speed.
When you’re out of contract you hope you'll be able to have a new deal sorted out by December or January.
There’s no set method for how the person in charge of contracts or the squad at a club has to handle that, and every coach or rugby director has a different style.
But Nigel has been very open and honest with us again, just as he has with everything else so far.
He has shown respect in telling us that first, before we hear about it elsewhere.
All the players know what’s going on, and they know progress is going to be made on that front shortly.
INJURY COULD HAVE BEEN EXPLOITED BY OPPONENTS
THE bang I took at Quins meant I had to come off at half-time – I was unable to hit top speed and could only run at about 75 per cent.
If we identified an opposition player struggling like that, we’d exploit it, and Quins would have done the same.
So as frustrating as it was, I just had to accept it for the good of the team.
The good news is that the knock is nothing serious, which is always a relief.
It is a thigh problem but it should clear up pretty quickly.
It’s also allowed me to clear up a couple of other little niggles too, and that’s no bad thing.
Hopefully it means I can be back on the field shortly, in decent condition and refreshed too.
MORGS STEPPING IT UP
MORE good news on Olly Morgan’s rehab front.
Last week we heard how Olly has been making big strides recently in his fitness battle.
He tore knee ligaments at Worcester in January.
The early stages of recovery from an injury and operation like that are tough, and slow-going.
But once you get to the point where you make quick gains, your mood really picks up.
Morgs has been working hard in the gym for a few weeks now – and he’s even getting stuck into work on the Wattbike now.
He’s at the stage where he can push himself seriously hard on the fitness front – and I know that getting that feeling of hard work back is always a huge morale boost.
SINBAD'S TIP OF THE WEEK:
OF COURSE after tipping them last week, Atletico Madrid went and lost their first Spanish league game of the season!
This time I’m heading back to horseracing then, and backing Ceepeegee each-way in the 1.10 at Wincanton on Saturday.