REVITALISED Gloucester will be ‘fitter, faster and stronger’ after the LV=Cup fortnight, tips boss Nigel Davies.
Rugby director Davies believes the Cherry and Whites frontline stars have benefited from a chance to recharge batteries – but also hit the gym and the running track.
Scotland lock Jim Hamilton beefs up Gloucester’s pack for tomorrow’s Kingsholm Premiership clash with Sale (kick-off noon).
The Cherry and Whites skipper returns after being released from international action, allowing Tom Savage to shift out to blindside flanker – and fit-again Sione Kalamafoni to move to number eight, to replace Ben Morgan, who is on England duty.
Charlie Sharples might have missed out on England action, but his club return has proved timely – as he slots straight into the void left by wing James Simpson-Daniel’s shoulder injury.
Gloucester boss Davies handed a host of youngsters their chance to impress during the last two weeks of LV=Cup action.
A healthy by-product of that was the opportunity for the likes of Freddie Burns and Billy Twelvetrees to take a short rest after a non-stop opening to the new campaign.
While some of his charges were sitting out match action though, they were working hard on the conditioning front.
And Davies believes that mid-season chance to beef up and speed up will pay dividend now.
He explained: “Hopefully the players are fitter, faster and stronger after this break.
“We’ve taken the opportunity to do some extra strength work and some different conditioning work.
“It’s the sort of stuff you can’t do when you’re preparing players for match action at the weekend, so it was the ideal chance to do that with some players we’d taken back from the frontline as we mixed up selection and gave people opportunities.
“So hopefully we’ll see the benefit of that this weekend, after bringing a lot of the players back in against London Welsh to make sure they are match-ready.”
Sale head coach Bryan Redpath makes his first Kingsholm return after leaving Gloucester in the summer.
The Sharks’ turbulent start to the season sees them bottom of the table, with just one win in their eight league matches to date.
Chief executive Steve Diamond has demoted Redpath from his initial director of rugby role, and that after sacking forwards coach Steve Scott.
John Mitchell arrived as a consultant, but just as quickly was back in South Africa trying to sort affairs with the Golden Lions, and his position remains fluid at best.
Despite all the turmoil in the North West though, Davies knows this will be a stern test of Gloucester’s credentials.
He added: “Sale are a good side with a lot of quality players.
“We know they will punish us if we allow them time and space to play, and so it’s a massive challenge to shut them down and keep their big star names quiet.”
GLOUCESTER: Rob Cook, Charlie Sharples, Mike Tindall, Billy Twelvetrees, Shane Monahan, Freddie Burns, Jimmy Cowan, Dan Murphy, Huia Edmonds, Rupert Harden, Will James, Jim Hamilton (capt), Tom Savage, Akapusi Qera, Sione Kalamafoni. Replacements: Koree Britton, Nick Wood, Shaun Knight, Pete Buxton, Matt Cox, Dan Robson, Tim Molenaar, Martyn Thomas.