NATURAL-BORN leaders Mike Tindall and Jim Hamilton will both shape Gloucester’s crucial Premiership clash at Wasps tomorrow, believes Nigel Davies.
Club captain Hamilton is back in Gloucester colours while the Six Nations has a fallow weekend.
The 30-year-old powerhouse lock pitched up at Gloucester after Scotland’s Italy win desperate to be involved at Adams Park (kick-off 1pm).
Rugby director Nigel Davies first checked he was mentally as well as physically prepared, then agreed to throw him into action.
But the Gloucester boss has resisted the temptation to send Hamilton into the fray from the off.
Prudent Davies has chosen not to alter his starting line-up from last week’s impressive 27-11 Northampton victory,
That means England’s most-capped centre Tindall skippers the Cherry and Whites once again.
Hailing the leadership qualities of both men, Davies explained: “They are both natural leaders, but everyone has a different approach.
“Leaders all have a lot of integrity, a lot of drive themselves, and other players can relate to them.
“Both those players carry those qualities, but they express them in different ways.
“It’s great whichever is leading the side to be honest, they both bring a massive amount to the captaincy role and to the team in general.
“And just because Jim is on the bench doesn’t mean he can’t influence all of the preparation tomorrow – he’s got a massive part to play.
“We’ve had to be careful how we use him, coming back in from international duty.
“It’s brilliant to have him there, ready to go.
“Everyone was excellent last week though, from one to 15 they played exceptionally well, allowing us to shut Saints down for almost all but the first 15 minutes.
“That was just one of four big games though, so it’s very much a case of heads-on straight away again.
“We spoke in the Northampton changing rooms about the need to bring the same focus to training this week.”
Davies concedes the back-row battle ground will be an unforgiving contest in High Wycombe tomorrow.
Bruisers Ashley Johnson and Billy Vunipola know all about punching their weight in Wasps’ loose forwards ranks.
But Gloucester’s marauding loose-forward trio are hardly any slouches, with Tom Savage and Akapusi Qera tackling themselves to a standstill at Saints last week.
Throw in human wrecking-ball Sione Kalamafoni, and Davies knows Gloucester wield a potent loose-forward weapon.
Demanding a repeat rampaging performance, Davies admitted Tongan Kalamafoni sometimes looks like a men amongst boys – remarkable given the Premiership’s bludgeoning physicality.
Davies continued: “Sione was like a big kid in a mini rugby team last week.
“But the whole team tackled and handled the physicality tremendously.
“Now we’ve got to do it all again.
“Wasps have crept up almost from nowhere really.
“They play some really good rugby and they work hard for each other.
“Their back-row is very effective and they carry the ball well.
“They have threats throughout their team and they can exploit mistakes if you are loose against them.
“We’re in a good place to meet that challenge though, and we’re looking forward to it.”
WASPS: H Southwell (capt), C Wade, A Masi, C Bell, T Varndell, S Jones, J Simpson, Z Taulafo, T Rhys Thomas, P Swainston, J Cannon, M Wentzel, A Johnson, S Jones, B Vunipola. Replacements: T Lindsay, T Payne, W Taylor, A Rae, M Everard, C Davies, N Robinson, E Daly.
GLOUCESTER: R Cook, C Sharples, M Tindall (capt), T Molenaar, J May, R Mills, D Robson, N Wood, D Dawidiuk, R Harden, L Lokotui, W James, T Savage, A Qera, S Kalamafoni. Replacements: K Britton, D Murphy, Y Thomas, J Hamilton, M Cox, D Lewis, S Monahan, M Thomas.