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."
Speaking to GRTV after the 40-29 Aviva A League win over Wasps Rugby, Academy Coach Rich Whiffin explained his pride in the squad to overcome a strong opponent and book their spot in next week's Aviva A League final.
Willi Heinz returned from injury to skipper Gloucester to a famous 16-14 win over Stade Rochelais on Saturday evening. Speaking after the game in France, Heinz admitted the win wasn't pretty but was full of courage and a great result for the club.
Billy Burns contributed all Gloucester's points in the 16-14 European Rugby Challenge Cup win in La Rochelle on Saturday evening, but dedicated the victory to the whole squad whilst also praising the travelling support.
Speaking after Gloucester's brave 16-14 win against Stade Rochelais which clinches a European Rugby Challenge Cup final spot, Director of Rugby David Humphreys paid tribute to the way the team had executed the game plan in a hostile environment against quality opposition.
Greig Laidlaw returns to the Gloucester Rugby squad this week, and his inclusion is an important one after a serious ankle injury. The Scottish scrum half is determined to drive the team forward in their European Rugby Challenge Cup semi final in La Rochelle this Saturday.
Gloucester take on La Rochelle in the European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final in France on Saturday evening, with the Top 14 side the favourites in the eyes of the bookmakers. However, David Humphreys is looking for his side to rise to the occasion against a familiar opponent.
Speaking to GRTV after Saturday's 39-30 Aviva Premiership win over Sale, Mark Atkinson admitted that the performance wasn't perfect but that the team's character shone through in a game that could easily have slipped away.
Scotland scrum-half Greig Laidlaw is targeting a 'unique' finish to his Gloucester tenure in the European Rugby Challenge Cup final at the venue where his professional playing career began, BT Murrayfield Stadium (Friday 12 May).