GLOUCESTER'S head coach Dean Ryan has backed young centre Jack Adams to continue his development following his crucial try-scoring cameo against Bath on Saturday.
The former St Peter's schoolboy, who will be 20 later this month, was a second half replacement for the injured Iain Balshaw in the west country derby and responded with a dazzling individual score that set Gloucester on their way to a 24-19 victory.
It was a sweet return for Adams, who missed virtually all of last season with serious ligament damage to his knee on A team duty against Saracens.
But Ryan is convinced Adams, who replaced Balshaw on the wing, is capable of joining fellow youngsters Anthony Allen, Olly Morgan and Ryan Lamb in playing a key role for the club this season.
"We have always been aware that Jack has incredible talent but we have to be patient with him because he suffered a horrendous injury last season," Ryan said.
"We must give him great credit because he has worked exceptionally hard to get back to fitness and to see him return like he did at the weekend was fantastic.
"There is a long way to because he has been out of the game for a long time but before his injury we saw glimpses of his ability and there is certainly more to come.
"At this stage he will not be rushed but he has been a great credit to the club and Saturday's performance will have given his confidence a huge boost."
Meanwhile, Gloucester will monitor the fitness of Balshaw in the coming days after he sustained an ankle injury on Saturday. He will undergo a scan tomorrow but the injury is not thought to be serious.
Fly-half Billy Burns was named Man of the Match after the 35-14 European Rugby Challenge Cup victory over Stade Rochelais on Thursday evening, and was full of praise for all his team mates for the win after a short turnaround.
Gloucester have been in good form in recent weeks, but Backs Coach Tim Taylor knows that the Cherry and Whites will have to be at their best on Thursday evening (kick off 7:45pm) against a Stade Rochelais side flying high this season.
Speaking to GRTV after the bonus point win over Bristol, back row Lewis Ludlow revealed that despite a tricky first half, Gloucester backed their skills to come through, a faith that was evident in a strong second half showing.
Willi Heinz scored Gloucester's second try as the Cherry and Whites overturned a disappointing first 40 minutes and 0-6 half time deficit, to earn a 26-18 Aviva Premiership victory over Bristol Rugby on Saturday.
Gloucester's much changed side had to overcome conceding an early try on Thursday evening, but responded in style to down Stade Rochelais by 35 points to 14 in the European Rugby Challenge Cup and set up a mouthwatering return fixture next weekend.
After taking 11 points from their last three games in the Aviva Premiership, including bonus point wins against Wasps and Bristol, Gloucester will be looking to continue their good form when they welcome La Rochelle to Kingsholm.