DEAN RYAN'S Gloucester squad will intensify their preparations ahead of the new Guinness Premiership season with a seven-day training camp in Portugal, starting today.
Some of the top names at Kingsholm - including new signings Lesley Vainikolo, Leon Lloyd and Andy Titterrell - will be put through their paces at a training base at Browns Sports & Leisure Club, the same venue used by England last month.
Until now, the majority of Gloucester's pre-season work has focused on conditioning, fitness and strength work, but the emphasis now will turn to rugby.
The entire squad - apart from Gloucester's World Cup participants - will be involved and head coach Ryan told www.gloucesterrugby.co.uk: "This is a very significant part of our preparation. Being together as a squad is hugely beneficial at this stage of the season - it allows us to work as a unit, build relationships that will be important in the weeks to come and focus on rugby.
"The squad are now back and have been working extremely hard alongside Mike Anthony (fitness and conditioning coach), making plenty of gains. The new players have integrated really well so we can now take their development a stage further."
It will be the third time that Gloucester have used Browns in Vilamoura following visits last summer and in February.
"The facilities are first class," Ryan added. "It will be great to get some training done in favourable conditions and hopefully we can accomplish a great deal before the start of our pre-season programme."
Gloucester have two pre-season games - against Cardiff away on Saturday, August 25 (2.30pm) and Ulster on Saturday, September 8 (6.30pm).
Gloucester travel to Oyonnax for the second round of the European Rugby Challenge Cup on Saturday evening, and Director of Rugby David Humphreys is expecting a big test from the French side, feeling that their league position doesn't reflect their recent performances.
Speaking exclusively to Gloucester Rugby TV, Matt Kvesic explained that his decision to extend his contract at Kingsholm was a simple one and that he was hugely excited for the future in Cherry and White.
Speaking after the 55-0 win over CA Brive, Jonny May told GRTV that he's delighted that the team's hard work is starting to pay dividends but was equally happy for his friend and team mate, Charlie Sharples, on what was a big night for his fellow winger.
Speaking to the local media this week, David Humphreys insisted that Gloucester are looking forward to kicking off the new European Rugby Challenge Cup against Brive on Thursday evening, although an unfamiliar opponent and a five day turnaround will pose a challenge.