Dean Ryan knows Gloucester face a tough test against London Irish
GLOUCESTER'S head coach Dean Ryan has acknowledged that his side face 'a fierce' contest against London Irish in the Guinness Premiership this Sunday.
The Kingsholm coach has yet to finalise his line-up but believes Gloucester's next two matches against the Irish and then Saracens will go a long way to shaping the rest of the campaign.
"They [London Irish] are a good side with a lot of team spirit, some big men, a very competitive line-out and a developing scrum - it will be a fierce contest," Ryan said.
"But they have added components to their game this year - they move a lot more ball and possess some very dangerous game breakers - we are under no illusions about the task we face.
"They are unbeaten in four matches and won well last weekend so we need to prepare as well as we can."
Ryan will finalise his line-up tomorrow but is almost certain to change the second row partnership that started against Leicester last weekend. Although Adam Eustace will retain his place, Peter Buxton could be shifted into his more accustomed position in the back row, which would leave room for Quinton Davids to return.
"There were elements of our game last weekend that didn't function as well as would have liked but we believe we will react in the right way this weekend," Ryan said. "We view every game with the possibility we can win but we have to make it happen."
The only major injury concern is to lock Mark Cornwell, who has a disc problem. If he is ruled out then Jonathan Pendlebury will be included in the squad but there could be more alterations.
"We make changes every week and there will be some this weekend," Ryan said. "But they only become obvious if you have lost a game, like we did last Saturday.
"I believe we need more than 15 people who are comfortable with that competitive environment and that is what we are trying to do."
Gloucester recorded a 32-20 win over La Rochelle on Thursday evening, and second row Jeremy Thrush was thrilled to pick up the victory on his first taste of a trip to France and the hostile atmosphere.
Gloucester were forced to battle for their 33-20 victory in La Rochelle on Thursday evening, something that centre Bill Meakes said that he and the squad were well prepared for as well as thanking the travelling support for the part they played.
Gloucester got off to a winning start in the European Rugby Challenge Cup last weekend, but Head Coach Laurie Fisher is expecting a much tougher challenge when the Cherry and Whites travel to La Rochelle for Thursday night's Round Two encounter.
Dan Thomas was a try scorer in the 14-62 defeat at the hands of the Barbarians on Tuesday evening, but told GRTV after the game that he'd really enjoyed taking on the Barbarians and locking horns with Ardie Savea at the breakdown.
After a long, hard battle to return to fitness, Henry Trinder made his long awaited comeback in the second half of the 23-10 win over Zebre on Saturday and admitted he was taken aback by the reception he got from the Kingsholm crowd.
21 year old number eight Lewis Ludlow formed part of a physical back row effort in the 23-10 European Rugby Challenge Cup over Zebre on Saturday. Speaking to GRTV after the game, he spoke of making the most of his chances and being happy to contribute to the Gloucester win.
Gloucester United kick off their Aviva Premiership A League campaign against Leicester Tigers at Welford Road on Monday evening (kick off 7pm) and have named a side which features lots of first team experience.