'Proud of our progress whatever happens now'
PROUD Nigel Davies has hailed Gloucester's progress this term – but warned they will lay it all on the line for their Premiership and European run-in.
Gloucester's rugby director believes the Cherry and Whites have made huge strides forward this term, his first at Kingsholm since switching from Llanelli Scarlets in the summer.
When Bryan Redpath exited Kingsholm for Sale Sharks and rudderless Gloucester meandered to an ugly season-ending hammering at London Irish last term, the Kingsholm outlook had seldom seemed more uncertain.
Savvy boss Davies quickly stamped his experience across his new Cherry and Whites domain though, reinvigorating Kingsholm in a flash.
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But even if Davies were expecting a relatively quick reversal in fortunes, he admits he has been impressed with the speed of his new club's development this term.
The former Wales centre explained: "When I look back at where we were in the summer, I am extremely proud of the progress that everyone at the club has made since then.
"I am extremely impressed with the work ethic of the players, coaches and back-room staff. Our spirit, determination and resilience have been first-class throughout this whole process."
Gloucester host London Welsh at Kingsholm on Saturday, March 23 (kick-off 3pm) – their first in five remaining Premiership contests.
League ties against Harlequins, Sale, Saracens and Exeter all follow, and the Kingsholm men could need four wins to force their way into the play-offs.
Throw in the Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-final against Biarritz at Kingsholm on Thursday, April 4 (kick-off 8pm), and Gloucester face a testing but potentially rewarding stretch.
Steeling his men for the fight, Davies continued: "All that hard work setting up systems though, in testing our plans and tweaking those approaches, all of the graft we have put into the games so far – all of that will be on the line when we return to action.
"Everything that has gone before will be at stake ultimately, when we host London Welsh at Kingsholm, and then in every game that follows that clash.
"The race for the play-offs is going to go right down to the wire. Two thirds of the league could be battling for the top four or six places come the final day.
"That's an incredibly exciting prospect, and one the neutrals will love. But we have to respect that excitement, and try to turn it to our advantage.
"The business end of the season will be hectic and fraught, and we have to make sure we enter into all of it with clear heads and clear objectives so we can produce the kind of rugby worthy of taking us into that top four.
"We can do it, but one of our first moves in preparing for our next match will be to appreciate fully the exact size of the challenge that awaits us."