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).
Defence Coach Jonny Bell admitted this week that the European Rugby Challenge Cup victory in Bayonne was a welcome one, stressed that Benetton Treviso will pose a tough test on Saturday at Kingsholm but that Gloucester are determined to deliver in front of their own fans.
Motu Matu'u is looking to make up for lost time this week as the Cherry and Whites head to Basque Country to take on Bayonne in the European Rugby Challenge Cup opener. The Samoan hooker made his first appearance in the jersey last weekend, and is hoping to contribute to the team this weekend.
Gloucester's attentions turn to Europe this weekend as they travel to Bayonne for their opening fixture of this season's European Rugby Challenge Cup. Forwards Coach Trevor Woodman told GRTV that the Cherry and Whites will be aiming to top their pool as they've done for the past two seasons, but is well aware of how tough it is to win in France.
Although understandably disappointed at seeing victory slip away at the last minute, Ben Morgan said after the game at Exeter that there were plenty of positives that Gloucester could take from the game.
Speaking after a last-gasp try from Exeter earned the Chiefs a 27-27 draw at Sandy Park on Saturday, Charlie Sharples admitted to mixed feelings. The game saw him score a try on his 200th competitive appearance for the club, but the frustration from not closing out the win was clear.
David Humphreys was minutes away from a winning interview on Saturday afternoon, but a late try from Exeter Chiefs meant the points were shared at Sandy Park. Humphreys spoke with the local media after the 27-27 draw.
Speaking to the media ahead of Saturday's Aviva Premiership fixture away at Exeter Chiefs, Director of Rugby David Humphreys reiterated that there are elements of Gloucester's game that are in good shape at present, that the performance against Bath was a step forward from Newcastle but that individual errors are costing the Cherry and Whites dear.
Centre Matt Scott, a try-scorer in Bayonne last weekend, insists that Gloucester are taking nothing for granted when they welcome Benetton Treviso to Kingsholm on Saturday in the European Rugby Challenge Cup (kick off 3pm).