Club-by-club guide: Gloucester

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The Independent Online

Head Coach: Dean Ryan

Captain: Mike Tindall

IN Olly Barkley (Bath), Matt Watkins (Llanelli), Greg Somerville (Canterbury), Adam Eustace (Llanelli), David Young (Leicester)

OUT Chris Paterson (Edinburgh), Jon Pendlebury (Leeds), Dan Tuohy (Exeter), Mike Prendergast (Young Munster), Christian Califano (retired), Ludovic Mercier (France), Karl Pryce (rugby league), Adam Balding (Newcastle), Patrice Collazo (TBC), Jeremy Paul (released)

First five games

Sep 6 Leicester (H)

Sep 13 Bath (A)

Sep 20 Harlequins (H)

Sep 26 Sale (A)

Oct 1 Newcastle (H)

Lessons from last season

Finish the job! Gloucester are proving to be the Premiership’s regular season brides and the bridesmaids of the play-offs. For the third time in six years, they topped the league table at the end of the season. But they failed to take advantage in the semifinals and became the first home team to lose a play-off game in Premiership history.

Strengths

Gloucester can play open, free-running rugby yet they can also mix it physically. While their coach may have been a ‘tuck-it-upyour- jumper’ type as a player, Gloucester do not play with such restrictions and are often a joy to watch. With the likes of Alasdair Strokosch and Marco Bortolami in the line-up, Gloucester also have a hard edge.

Weaknesses

Gloucester’s mental toughness will be questioned until they win the big one. Dean Ryan was so disappointed following last year’s semi-final loss that he said: “I'm losing some enthusiasm, because these players can’t keep on waiting to be told what to do. So the issue is this: do they come to terms with some of the things that happened out there, or look for a cop-out?”

Player to watch

With a worrisome shoulder injury fixed, James Simpson-Daniel will continue his emergence as one of the most dynamic game-breaking wings in the Premiership. Equally suited to playing at centre, Simpson- Daniel is back in the international fold but will undoubtedly also make an impact for his club this term. When he puts it all together, the multi-talented back oozes class and is one of the most gifted players on English soil.

Did you know?

Even though Gloucester won the Premiership play-offs in 2001-02, the victory came before rule changes recognised the post-season competition.

Prediction

Another solid campaign - now do it when it counts.

4th

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