Win against Wasps may complete big double after Grand National challenge:
There's a real buzz around Hartpury this week. It was a very good win down in Exeter on the weekend which sets us up nicely for our quarter-final with Wasps on Sunday.
A lot of people would have expected a backlash from Exeter following their loss to Leicester and with the way we leaked a lot of points against Newcastle, the outsider could be forgiven for thinking they would win.
It was not as comfortable as we would have liked, with them scoring a try at the end and having the opportunity to kick the conversion to win.
It looked like they would do it at that point and it would have been another heart-breaker like Worcester suffered the week before.
But before Gareth Steenson even had the opportunity to take the kick, a pitch invader ran on which is frustrating and not what you want to see.
All the lads were gutted and this guy runs on and it was a natural reaction from Freddie Burns to just tackle him.
The boys have been giving Freddie plenty of banter, saying it was his best tackle of the season, but players shouldn’t be put in that position.
In the event Steenson missed and the win will give the boys a lot of confidence going towards the weekend.
They will know they can go to a really tough place and get a result instead of being gutted and downbeat.
So we have to take a huge amount of confidence, the boys stuck in there and the outside backs got through a hell of a lot of tackles and absorbed a lot of pressure.
Wasps are also having a bit of a hot and cold season. At one point it was pretty much cold for us but we have turned things around and are looking a bit more solid.
But while they are enduring a bit of a losing run and a dip in form, we can’t underestimate them because they have the ability to play some really good stuff.
When we played them last Christain Wade came to Kingsholm and was having a steady game until he had two opportunities and showed what a lethal finisher he is.
To have that in your armoury is a major weapon so it’s great for us that someone like that, and potentially Elliot Daly, will not be available.
Traditionally home form counts a lot in our fixtures but after the way we have gone at teams on the road during the last few months and following our victory over Exeter I don’t think it is so much of a worry.
It’s a good place to play and the boys will be looking forward to getting out there are performing on a good surface.
Hopefully it will be the final leg of a nice double with the horse I co-own with Mike Tindall and Nicky Robinson, Monbeg Dude, running the Grand National at Aintree on Saturday.
It’s going to be a very tense weekend. Playing rugby can be nerve wrecking but you can control your nerves and have an influence on what happens.
But with the Dude it is totally out of your hands, you worry about whether the horse will go around good and that the jockey will be safe.
I guess you are least nervous watching the boys play because you know what they’ve been working on and that they’re well prepared, then it’s the build-up to when I’m playing, but watching Monbeg Dude has to be the worst.
I will train on Friday and go up afterwards. We will be up and about early on Sunday whether we have cause to celebrate or not, to get back to our boys, who will be staying with family overnight, and will watch the rugby on the box.
New signings look quality additions:
It was great to see the club make so many announcements of new signings last week and it looks like we are building some real strength in depth.
Tom Palmer will be a great addition but all of them look quality acquisitions.
You look at the top teams in the Premiership, and more so in Europe, and they all have massive strength in depth, they can sub one international for another.
It's not about signing one marquee player but bringing in six, seven, eight players that are more than capable,
It will also have a knock-on effect on other players in the squad.
At 20 years old Elliott Stooke had a phenomenal game on the weekend but realistically someone of his age should not be playing week in week out.
Young guys need to be drip fed in and if you look at the second-row next season there will be four specialist second-rows vying for two jerseys, which hasn't been the case this season largely because injuries.
It can take more than a week to get over the aches and pains of a big game sometimes and having the ability to give someone a week off and rotate the squad will be very beneficial.