Mike Anthony has been impressed with the pre-season work of Will James
GLOUCESTER'S fitness and conditioning expert Mike Anthony is full of praise for the efforts made by Dean Ryan's squad in the last few weeks and believes they could be in the best shape ever.
The squad will jet off to Portugal later this month for a training camp but work is already well underway ahead of the new Guinness Premiership season.
While Gloucester's internationals have not yet returned to pre-season, the majority of the squad have been put through their paces at Hartpury College by the former All Blacks fitness coach.
"When I arrived at the club three years ago I think it was a bit of a fright to the players as to what I expected of them, but now we are getting these guys into outstanding shape," Anthony told www.gloucesterrugby.co.uk
"There is no way I can fault the work ethic - we are doing three sessions a day and have concentrated on three main areas - strength, anaerobic and speed.
"We have also put some weight on people like James Forrester and some of our backs because if you take Mike Tindall out of our three-quarter line, we are quite small in that area.
"But we have also combined that with agility work because we don't want them to lose their speed. In terms of where we were this time last season, we are well ahead and that is really pleasing."
On Monday, the squad were fitness tested and they also compete in regular strong man competitions that involve tyre flipping, wrestling and boxing.
Later in July the squad travel to Portugal for what Anthony describes as 'an intensive training camp.'
"I have already seen the facility and it's fantastic," he said. "It will give us a much needed change of scenery, we will eat together and work together and also have some down-time together.
"There will be a chance for them to get on the beach and play some speed golf. But as a group we are definitely further ahead than this time last year and the new guys have shown a great desire to work exceptionally hard.
"Will James has shown a fantastic attitude, he is strong and a great athlete - I have been really impressed - but the effort from everyone has been outstanding."
Previewing Friday evening's local derby at Bristol, Interim Head Coach Jonny Bell told the local media that Gloucester's preparations have gone well and that the whole squad is united in trying to finish the season on a high.
Speaking to GRTV this week, Acting Head Coach Jonny Bell spoke of his pleasure in the efforts and intensity in training from the squad after a tricky few weeks. The team were preparing for big games with Bristol and Cardiff in coming weeks.
Willi Heinz was understandably and visibly disappointed when he spoke to GRTV after the 27-30 home defeat to Harlequins, apologising to the home support as the game slipped away after seemingly having the game under control.
Speaking to the local media this week, Scottish centre Matt Scott spoke of the squad's determination to put in a big home performance against Harlequins, with vital points up for grabs in the hunt for a Top Six spot this Saturday (KO 3pm)
Looking ahead to Saturday's Aviva Premiership fixture at home to Harlequins (kick off 3pm), Head Coach Laurie Fisher told the local media that Gloucester will need to be on top of their game in a match which has big implications in terms of top six ambitions.
A big few days for the Gloucester-Hartpury Women side. First came the news that the team will compete in Women's Super Rugby next season, and on Saturday the team will play Worcester Ladies IIs at Kingsholm. Centre Hannah Jones and wing Michelle Ruddock spoke to GRTV this week to reflect on events.
Missing so many starters, and up against a team fighting for their Premiership existence, Gloucester did what had to be done at Ashton Gate on Friday evening battling their way to a 32-14 Aviva Premiership win over Bristol Rugby.