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).
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.
It's the first Gloucester-Bristol derby at Kingsholm in over eight years this Saturday (kick off 4:30pm) and, previewing the game with the local media this week, Defence Coach Jonny Bell stressed that, with both teams in the bottom half of the table, they both need the points.
Speaking to the local media this week, Gloucester front rower John Afoa knows the challenge ahead this week against Bristol, and calls on the Cherry and Whites to make the most of home advantage as a determined squad look to bounce back from a narrow loss to Saracens.
Tom Savage speaks to GRTV and the local media as Gloucester went down by 24-20 at Saracens on Sunday afternoon. The second row was disappointed with the result, despite a strong showing from the hosts.
Speaking immediately after the game, skipper Willi Heinz thought that Gloucester had executed their game plan reasonably well and competed hard against Saracens. However, it wasn't enough but the squad will have plenty to work on this week ahead of the derby match against Bristol.
Gloucester may be coming off their best win of the season, the 38-16 victory over Wasps last weekend, but Director of Rugby David Humphreys admits that Sunday's trip to Saracens is an even tougher test.
Looking to try a new sport? Look no further than Walking Rugby as thanks to Gloucester Rugby you can come along and try out the fast-growing sport at taster sessions across the county, starting this Wednesday.
Gloucester return to European Rugby Challenge Cup action on Thursday evening with the visit of Stade Rochelais to Kingsholm (kick off 7:45pm). Early Bird ticket prices are available until 6:30pm on matchday.
Talk about a game of two halves. Things looked grim on Saturday as Gloucester trailed 0-6 to Bristol at half-time. However, Matt Scott's eighth try of the season got Gloucester off and running, and the visitors fell apart as the Cherry and Whites eased to a 26-18 bonus point Aviva Premiership win.