Gloucester Rugby flanker Andy Hazell, who will celebrate his testimonial match against a Bath Rugby XV on August 15th, told the Gloucester Citizen this week that the squad are working harder than ever.
The England international, who has made nearly 200 first team appearances for his home town club, has been impressed by the attitude and commitment of his team mates in preseason training.
"We are working harder than ever because everyone is so enthusiastic. It's not that we haven't worked hard before, but it really is an enjoyable place to be at the moment."
He's seen a few preseasons in his time at the club but is adamant that this one ranks amongst the most enjoyable.
"We have changed a lot of the things were are doing, and some of the emphasis on the way we are looking to play. Everyone is doing things with a smile on their faces."
"(Fitness coach) Mark Bitcon is doing his first pre-season, and with Bryan (Redpath) as Head Coach there's a whole new feeling about the squad."
"There's a really good vibe at the moment. A lot of responsibility has been switched to the players. We're out on the field and in a position to influence things and, if we're not happy with something, then we're encouraged to speak up."
And the fact that Gloucester will face off against Bath twice in a matter of weeks hasn't escaped his attention.
"That'll be interesting! It'll be a bit of laugh and giggles for my game and then I'll want to rip his head off! And the feeling will probably be mutual."
"That's the nature of it and the first Guinness Premiership game of the season being Bath at Kingsholm will be massive. Every year, the first game is a huge one but Bath is that little bit extra special."
Speaking to the local media this week, Richard Hibbard expressed his excitement ahead of the West Country derby and that there is an extra spring in the step of the Cherry and Whites ahead of the tough challenge.
With such a short turnaround between the two games, and Gloucester looking to reintegrate several players into the line-up after the Autumn international series, Tom Savage told GRTV that the Cherry and Whites will keep changes to a minimum for the European Rugby Challenge Cup game in Zebre on Saturday.
Gloucester travel to Italy this weekend to take on Zebre in Round Four of the European Rugby Challenge Cup. The Cherry and Whites defeated the Italian side 35-10 last Sunday, but Director of Rugby David Humphreys is looking for an improved performance in the return fixture.
On a tough evening at Kingsholm, Gloucester could escape neither a suffocating Bath defence, nor the whistle of referee Greg Garner as six penalties and a penalty try paved the way to a 39-16 win for the visitors.
Gloucester Rugby welcome Sione Kalamafoni, Greig Laidlaw and Tom Palmer back to the starting line up and feature David Halaifonua in a matchday squad for the first time, as they resume Aviva Premiership action against Bath Rugby at Kingsholm on Saturday (kick off 5:30pm).