By Cherry Picker
August 30 2011
Gloucester need to get better - a lot better - if they are to get a result on the opening weekend of the new Premiership season at Northampton. That's the view of the fans who saw their pre-season games against London Welsh and Russia - and coach Bryan Redpath agrees.
He appears to have been no more impressed by those two performances than the fans were, and he has made it clear that the form shown by Glaws in those games will get them nowhere in 2011-12, World Cup or no World Cup.
Going to Franklin’s Gardens is never easy, and as in so many early-season games this season, the result could be determined by which club has more strength in depth.
Glaws are missing seven players who are on their way to New Zealand, but Saints are missing eight so it’s a case of swings and roundabouts.
If anything, the World Cup could help one or two weaker clubs, who perhaps aren’t having to play their early games without so many absentees.
Saints, of course, aren’t one of the weaker clubs and after four pre-season games their squad has had a lot more game time – they lost to Castres, but beat Russia, Toulouse and Leinster.
Redpath is under no illusions over the size of his team’s task. He told the Citizen: "We're well aware how tough they will be. They will be desperate to deal with the fact that we beat them twice last year.
"And while they lose a lot of players because of the World Cup, they still have a huge amount of quality in there, and will show that in abundance.
"They'll be a huge physical threat, and we've got to deal with that.
"Intensity-wise we're going to have to raise the level by about another 30 per cent next weekend. We've got a big week ahead of us - we've got a lot of work to get through."
One of Redpath’s biggest problems ahead of the game is to decide who plays at stand-off after the departure of Nicky Robinson – Tim Taylor or Freddie Burns.
Redpath said: "It’s about directing the team, it's not about the individuals. We need both players to understand that team direction.
“I'll pick whoever I think is best for the specific game this weekend, and I expect the other one to get on with it and knuckle down, I don't expect anything else from either of them.”
The same will, of course, apply to the other 14 positions – because of the World Cup, the early stages of the new season could produce all sorts of topsy-turvy results. It’s up to Glaws to hit the ground running … and keep running.