GLOUCESTER can win the Premiership – but only if they hit their full potential, believes Jimmy Cowan.
The World Cup winner is confident Gloucester can muscle their way into a top-four play-off berth at the end of the season.
But he admitted that Nigel Davies' men will fall short unless they forget their achievements so far – and strike new levels in the New Year.
The Cherry and Whites sit fourth at the Premiership's halfway point after Saturday's impressive 18-16 Exeter Chiefs victory.
And former All Blacks scrum-half Cowan (inset) sees no reason why that win cannot prove the catalyst for a strong run of results.
The 30-year-old explained: "We've had some good wins and we've got a lot of momentum from the first half of the season.
"But what's coming now is what counts.
"It's time to stand up and be counted as a team in the second-half of the season.
"I've no doubt we've been effective as a team in the first-half of the campaign, but from previous experience I think we've got to park that, and look forward to what's coming.
"The latter parts of the competitions are where the real teams stand up, and the best teams go up another gear.
"So I think we can go up another gear, I don't think we've played to our true potential, so hopefully we'll produce that over the second-half of the year.
"We're definitely here to win the competition, there's no doubt about it.
"If we can keep growing week to week, then I seriously see no reason why we can't win it."
Gearing up for Saturday's league clash at Leicester (kick-off 5pm), Cowan backed the Cherry and Whites to steal a big result at Welford Road this weekend.
After bonus-points defeats at Harlequins and Saracens, the former Southland and Otago half-back said Gloucester know what they need to do to register victory at the home of a true Premiership power.
He continued: "We've got the belief in ourselves that we can go to places like Leicester and pull off massive results.
"We've come very close to winning at Harlequins and Saracens, but we were just short.
"That gives us a very strong indication of what we need to do to pull through somewhere like Leicester.
"And now the challenge is to live up to those standards."
Encouraged by the Exeter result, Cowan said Gloucester will continue to chase greater attacking fluency – but not at the expense of results.
Keen to keep improving on the front-foot, he said Gloucester will happily play the percentages if the weather or the opposition shut down other options.
He continued: "We tried to play open rugby but the conditions didn't allow it.
"They attacked the breakdown and killed a lot of our momentum.
"Given the conditions it was all about who would work harder, and that just shows the character of our team.
"We were down 16-12 but we didn't panic, and we came away with a great win.
"We were confident we could come back, we all trust Freddie to knock the points over, and we got the job done.
"We've got the ability to play plan B, we can always kick territory and squeeze possession, and we did that when we needed to against Exeter.
"There was no panic when they scored, there were a lot of cool heads in that huddle, we kept calm and then we went straight down the other end of the field and got a penalty.
"The response was crucial, and then at the end we were very clinical.
"So there's a lot of encouraging signs to take forward."