Gloucester Rugby: Akapusi Qera desperate to get stuck in
BULLISH Akapusi Qera will be itching to blast into Northampton Saints to rid his Saracens sacrificial lamb frustrations, admits Nigel Davies.
Gloucester boss Davies admitted he had little choice but to withdraw Fijian flanker Qera after less than 10 minutes in Sunday's Allianz Park defeat.
Nick Wood's red card forced Gloucester to bring on Dan Murphy to cope with the scrum battle.
Rugby director Davies almost withdrew one of his back-three, but knew Saracens would only exploit the high ball.
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So instead he plumped for 29-year-old Qera in what he described as little more than a Hobson's choice.
Davies sympathised with Qera's annoyance – but has backed the big-hitting back-rower to let off some steam against Northampton at Kingsholm tomorrow (kick-off 3.15pm).
The former Wales centre explained: "It was an extremely difficult decision to make, and making the call to bring him off was tough, there's no doubt.
"I felt for him immediately, even though I was making that decision, because obviously he did nothing himself to warrant being withdrawn.
"We had no choice but to sacrifice someone, and he was the unfortunate man in that respect.
"We did think about perhaps bringing off one of the back-three, but with the wind and the way Saracens play, we thought we would need the field coverage and I think that was the right call.
"What it does mean though, is that Q is fresh this week and I don't doubt he will be desperate to get stuck in against Northampton.
"He'll be fresh and ready to fire, and no doubt wanting to make up for missing out last weekend."
Gloucester leaked five-tries in their 44-12 loss at Saracens, forced to grind out all-but two minutes without Wood – and 10 second-half minutes two men light with Sione Kalamafoni in the bin.
Now Davies has challenged his players to meet Northampton's physical challenge at Kingsholm this weekend – while also holding their discipline.
And he is confident his pack can cope with the contest.
He added: "Matt Kvesic and Sione got through a lot of work on Sunday and that was important to what we wanted to do.
"But now we've got to raise our back-five showing in the pack once again.
"If we can do that then hopefully we can build a platform against Northampton that we can then look to exploit, to attack on the front foot.
"It's time to get into our phase-play and cause some real, consistent problems for opposition defences."