GLOUCESTER Rugby's head coach Dean Ryan has given his club's growing involvement with the Pertemps Bees a glowing endorsement and believes it is crucial in the development of players at both clubs.
Ryan was speaking after Gloucester Rugby announced a formal link with the National One side - skippered by former Kingsholm lock Mark Cornwell - that will see a number of players go on loan from Gloucester throughout the coming season.
The project has already paid handsome dividends for both clubs. Early last season, both Ryan Lamb and Luke Narraway spent time at Sharmans Cross Road to gain first team experience and returned to Kingsholm later in the year to make vital contributions to Gloucester's European Challenge Cup success.
Lamb then joined up with the England Under-21 party for the World Championships, while Narraway was a member of the England Saxons Churchill Cup squad.
"We have already got first class evidence of the success of this scheme following the contributions guys like Ryan Lamb and Luke Narraway made for us last season," Ryan told <http://www.gloucesterrugby.co.uk/
"I am certain that the exposure to senior rugby with the Bees helped their development substantially. It provides game-time and match fitness and is an avenue we want to explore further.
"We have a number of young players like Dean Miller and Dan Tuohy who will benefit massively from this arrangement. Having someone like Mark Cornwell involved with the Bees this season is a huge bonus because he has first-hand experience of what makes a top Premiership player.
"It can help fast-track development of these guys and at the same time offer Pertemps some quality players."
Gloucester also anticipate full-back Jon Goodridge, stand-off Brad Davies and prop Terry Sigley being involved in the scheme so regular first team players retain their match fitness when not involved in the Guinness Premiership.
Phil Maynard, Director of Rugby at Pertemps Bees, added: "We are pleased to be able to strengthen our links with Gloucester.
"We have played our part in developing the likes of Ryan Lamb and Luke Narraway in the past two seasons and our partnership with Gloucester adds depth and experience to our first team squad.
"We are particualrly pleased to be able to welcome Terry Sigley back on loan. Terry was a key member of the side that took us to the semi-finals of the Powergen Cup two years ago and to fourth place in National One.
"We encouraged him to try his hand with Gloucester and he will come back to us a better player having had two seasons of Premiership rugby."
Tom Marshall scored his first Gloucester try in the 31-23 win over Saracens on Friday evening and was named Man of the Match. Talking to GRTV, he praised the forwards for setting the tone on the night.
Matt Scott was on media duty this week, and the Scottish international spoke about the benefit of having a full week of training with his club mates and the determination to get back to performing well against Saracens this Friday evening.
After the disappointment of last weekend's performance at Leicester, Director of Rugby David Humphreys told GRTV that he expects a big response from Gloucester in Friday's Aviva Premiership fixture at home to Saracens (kick off 7:45pm).
Gloucester travel to Tigers this Saturday in good spirits, and fly half Billy Burns is looking forward to testing himself in one of the toughest environments in the league as the Cherry and White hunt vital points as attention returns to the Aviva Premiership
After a good run of recent results, Gloucester will travel to take on Leicester in a good frame of mind according to Director of Rugby David Humphreys, but are well aware of the challenge that lies in wait.
As part of its commitment to player welfare, The Rugby Players' Association (RPA) has today officially launched #LiftTheWeight, a new campaign that aims to help remove the stigma surrounding mental health issues and offer the necessary tools and support to enable our members to enjoy a healthy and fulfilling life, both on the field and off it.