Phil Vickery insists Gloucester must rediscover their courage of conviction to keep their European hopes alive against London Wasps.
The Cherry and Whites take on the Wycombe-based club in the quarter-final of the Amlin Challenge Cup at Adams Park on Sunday.
It has been a up and down season for Nigel Davies’ men but Vickery believes the tide is turning following back-to-back Premiership wins.
Wasps on the other hand have lost six of their last seven games in all competitions and Vickery insists Gloucester can pile more misery on his former club providing they possess the belief.
Vickery said: “From a Gloucester point of view things have changed quite quickly and things are going particularly well with back-to-back Premiership win.
“London Wasps are on a bit of a downward curve. They were carrying on from where they finished last season and were competing at the top but they lost at home to London Irish and have gone on a bit of a spiral since.
“It’s a very difficult game to call and one both teams will think they can win. Maybe they don’t have that belief but if they can rediscover it they will have a very good shot.
“If you look at two weeks ago they were absolutely smashing Newcastle but as soon as something went wrong they went to panic stations straight away.
“But the Exeter win will do a huge amount for their confidence. The Chiefs are having a bit of a hard time in the league and are not delivering what a lot of people expected but any win at Sandy Park is a tremendous result.
“So Gloucester are the team with momentum, no matter how fragile it is. They are more than capable of winning and even doing it well but they need that belief and confidence.”
In a stark turnaround from earlier this season, the Cherry and Whites dominated the forward battle against Exeter on Saturday and Vickery has been impressed with the transformation of the pack.
His former front-row partner Trevor Woodman recently joined the club as scrum coach, following a stint in the same role at Wasps, and he reckons Nigel Davies’ men will have the edge in the battle of the packs.
He said: “There’s the lovely little sub-plot of Trevor going back to Wasps after joining Gloucester’s staff. He’s an intelligent man and he has really learnt his trade coaching.
“As a player he was exceptionally gifted but he also had to work extremely hard to reach those levels.
“The Gloucester forwards have taken a lot of stick and perhaps it was a question of mentality. I don’t have any doubt of quality in the Gloucester pack and sometimes a change of voice and direction is what’s needed.
“The club have invested in real quality and calibre, which I’m not saying Tony Windo didn’t have, but I’m confident the club will reap rewards of appointing Trevor.”
But Vickery has warned Gloucester they cannot afford another ill-disciplined display, having racked up the second-worst record in the Premiership.
They picked up another two yellow cards in the slender victory over the Chiefs and Vickery knows all too well that Andy Goode has the ability to coolly punish hot-headedness.
He said: “Indiscipline has been an issue all season and a lot has been said about it but it keeps creeping back.
“You simply can’t afford it in knockout rugby. It’s a high-pressure scenario but players have to take responsibility.
“If they see one or two guys go to the sin-bin again, leaving them down to 13, they can kiss goodbye to any hopes of winning. They will know that, and I’m sure the point will have been made about it this week, but they have to go out and do it.
“Wasps will have more of an emphasis on the half-backs, Joe Simpson will be sniping around the fringes and at 10 you have a big, grizzly bear in Andy Goode who will cause a lot of problems if he’s allowed to pull the strings.
“He’s a bit of a Marmite player but there is no one in the Premiership that’s better directing a pack of forwards. He knows how to win games, he kicks goals from anywhere, which comes back to the discipline issue, his strategic kicking is fantastic and if he is on the front-foot there aren’t many better passers or distributors.”
It will be a special encounter for Vickery, who enjoyed an illustrious career at both clubs and will be working for Sky Sports on the evening.
And while he does not want to see either team lose, he is desperate to see the Cherry and Whites deliver on the big occasion.
He added: “London Wasps did such a huge amount for me and the way in which they welcomed me into their family for the four and a half years I was there was amazing.
“But I had 11 years at Gloucester and it’s a club that’s very close to my heart. I didn’t just fall in love with Gloucester rugby club but the entire city and its people.
“It’s so difficult, I don’t want to see one team win more than the other but I would love to see a Cherry and White shirt go to the next level.
“This season held so much promise but it just fizzled out. Hopefully they can go out and show people what the club is about and how much they want to succeed.”