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).
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.
Monday evening saw Freddie Clarke in A League action against Exeter, Saturday saw him make his Aviva Premiership debut. And both games resulted in wins! Freddie spoke to GRTV after the 39-30 win over Sale.
Billy Burns will get the headlines for his 16 point haul, but it was a team of heroes who went to La Rochelle and fought like demons to secure a magnificent 16-14 European Rugby Challenge Cup win on Saturday evening.
Gloucester Rugby welcome back scrum-halves Willi Heinz and Greig Laidlaw to the matchday squad as they make five changes to their starting line-up for Saturday evening's European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final against Stade Rochelais.