Gloucester Rugby face Ulster at Kingsholm this Saturday in the European Champions Cup and ahead of the fixture Mark Atkinson faced the press.
Players returning to the team
“There are these enforced rest weeks due to the nature of the season and nobody will ever turn down a week off but it’s frustrating that you have to get these rest weeks in. I think it’s three throughout the year, so George (Skivington) has to look at the season as a big picture.
“As players you want to play every week but decisions are made for you. It hasn’t taken too much out of the legs so it’s about keeping fresh and hopefully we’ll see the results at the back end of the season.”
Bouncing back from last week
“Nobody wants a defeat and that’s the nature of it. There are some positives to take and some young boys got their first taste of Champions Cup rugby but also actually playing for Gloucester Rugby so it was pretty exciting and something that they’ll never forget.
“Like I said, nobody wants a defeat and we never want to lose, especially at home. We put pressure on ourselves every week. We have to get our performances and our processes right and then the results should be taken care of off the back of that effort.
“I don’t think we need to prove anything to anyone. We owe ourselves and our fans a turnaround and it’s not necessarily just about getting a result. We’re frustrated with a couple of our processes but we’re being given everything by the coaches.
“I think the game plan and the understanding is there it’s just about getting it right and that’s our biggest frustration.”
“It probably turns it into a Cup final essentially because I think if you lose two in this competition this year it’s probably the end of the road. Famously the Irish sides play with a total focus on Europe so it’s exciting!”
On the Champions Cup
“It’s an exciting competition. You don’t play all year the previous season to be desperate to get into this top competition and then not relish the chance to play in it when it comes along.
“There’s excitement in the squad and there are a lot of boys coming back from a week off so there should be no excuses for a performance.”