BILLY Twelvetrees has urged Gloucester to restore the pride in the badge when they take on Munster in today’s crunch Heineken Cup clash (6pm).
The Cherry and Whites enter the Kingsholm showdown with their European hopes hanging by a thread – a win would keep them alive but a loss will all but confirm the Irish province as kings of Pool Six.
Gloucester have a rich history of epic encounters with the Limerick-based outfit but have all too often fallen at the final hurdle and they go into battle on the back of a humiliating 29-8 defeat to Saracens.
Nigel Davies’ men are still seething following the embarrassing loss and the mental wounds continue to gnaw away, but stand-in captain Twelvetrees insists they can exorcise their demons.
He said: “The boys were very frustrated and embarrassed from the performance against Saracens, especially at home.
“We had no heart or desire and when you let yourselves and the Kingsholm crowd down like that it’s disappointing.
“As a player you never want your desire to play for your club questioned and a huge amount of passion has already been shown about what it means to represent Gloucester and your family.
“It’s easy to look at last week and say it’s the kick up the backside we needed and I think it will have that affect. It’s just about applying it.
“The week has been pretty brutal in terms of our own criticism of ourselves. There were a lot of home truths and a lot of honesty which was good and also needed.
“We’re certainly not short of motivation and no matter who we faced this weekend we would have plenty of passion. We want to put things right for ourselves, our families and the Gloucester area as a whole.
“We are representing a lot of people and want to show what that means.
“We need to put our bodies on the line and show how proud we are to pull on this jersey at Kingsholm. Everyone is committed to the cause but it’s just having that mentality on match-day and doing it for 80 minutes.
“We will go out and give it absolutely everything and never take a backwards step – that’s what Gloucester should always be about. I’m fully confident the boys will do it.”
Twelvetrees has experienced his fair share of ‘big matches’ – none more so than on the international stage with England and the British and Irish Lions.
But he reckons the European day of destiny at a sold-out Kingsholm is as important as any in his career.
He said: “It’s up there with the biggest matches I have been involved in at Gloucester.
“Europe is where you want to be and the Heineken Cup is what we worked so hard for last year.
“It’s the first time I’ve played Munster in Europe and I can’t wait to do it at Kingsholm.
“They’re such good quality opposition and these are the games you look for in the schedule.
“It’s just huge and the table shows we need to go out and perform. But it suits us when our backs are against the wall.”
There have been plenty of comparisons between Munster and Saracens this week, and if Gloucester have not learnt their lessons they will be put to the sword once again.
Addressing their mentality and ensuring they play with the desire the jersey deserves will go a long way to ensuring there is not a repeat of last week’s embarrassing episode.
But Twelvetrees is well aware that the Cherry and Whites must match Munster at the set-piece and breakdown to have a chance of upsetting the odds.
He added: “They are very effective at what they do. They do the simple things well, are very physical, deal with the breakdown extremely well and display so much passion for Munster.
“If you look at their history in this competition and what they have done domestically it’s pretty awesome.
“They have that variety and while over the last few years they’ve changed their game they have more recently gone back towards their more traditional style. They have so much scope to go to, they have great kicking game, power and can still chuck the ball around.
“We’re fully aware of what they can bring but we’re concentrating on ourselves. We fronted up to them in October and could have got something over there.
“We’re not afraid of playing them and it’s something we’re very confident we can do.”