Gloucester Rugby: 'Croucher' Rob Cook ready to rumble
ROB Cook is poised for his full Premiership debut – and ready to seize his first team chance with both hands, believes Nigel Davies.
The 28-year-old full-back could step into the Gloucester side to take on Wasps on Saturday, with Shane Monahan and Charlie Sharples ruled out, and a fitness doubt over Martyn Thomas.
Powerful Irish wing Monahan shone on his own full league debut in Saturday's 16-16 Worcester draw, but copped a finger in his eye and was forced out of action prematurely.
The former Leinster Academy flyer has suffered internal bleeding in his eye and could miss a fortnight's action.
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Former Newport Dragons full-back Martyn Thomas sprained his toe in training, and is fighting to recover in time for Saturday's Kingsholm Premiership clash (kick-off 3.15pm).
After cutting his foot on a shell in pre-season beach training at Pembrey in Wales, Gloucester boss Davies said Thomas' latest setback is a frustrating for both club and player.
Sharples is still battling damage to the AC joint in his right shoulder, but while he will miss out this weekend he is not expected to be sidelined for long.
Cook made his first Premiership appearance for Gloucester on Saturday, replacing Monahan in the closing stages.
The former Nuneaton man only arrived at Kingsholm from Cornish Pirates in the summer, but found himself back on loan at the Penzance side in a dual-registration deal inside nine weeks.
Cook slotted the winning penalty in Pirates' season-opening 19-17 victory over Plymouth, then hot-footed it up the motorway to turn out in Gloucester United's 20-12 A League win over Sale at Kingsholm the next day.
Davies is keen to give all his players as much rugby as possible, hence Cook's dual status with the Pirates – but he will not find players rugby elsewhere at the expense of time on the field with Gloucester.
Backing the Worcester University graduate to tie Gloucester's back-three together if called upon, Davies explained: "We need quality players and quality options in all positions, so it's great to have men like Rob there.
"It was good for him to get on at Worcester, and if he is in the mix against Wasps then he's prepared for and capable of handling that.
"Rob Cook is ready, he's here because of that, and if he gets his chance then I'm sure he'll seize it.
"It isn't too serious for Shane, it will probably be a week or two.
"He just suffered a bit of internal bleeding in his eye and we've got to be very careful there, we're not about to be taking any risks with someone's sight.
"But within a week or two hopefully he'll be back.
"Shane has been a great addition to the squad, he impressed all pre-season no doubt he'll be frustrated, but hopefully he'll be back in action soon.
"Martin picked up a couple of injuries in pre-season and that hadn't allowed him to kick on, and unfortunately he's suffered a toe injury and he's not quite there at the moment.
"But we'll wait and see until later in the week with that one before we make a call on that for the weekend.
"It was just a sprain of the toe in training, it's a something or nothing injury really, which is frustrating for him and us.
"That's why we need a good squad of players though because injuries are clearly a constant of rugby, and if Rob slots in at the weekend then I'm convinced he'll do a good job for us."
Should Cook step in on Saturday then Jonny May will likely move out to the wing, having started all three league clashes so far at full-back.
Davies said May's all-round attacking threat – and his growing full-back positional skills – will only serve to improve him as a winger, as well as a 15.
Davies added: "I think the experience of playing the last couple of games at full-back will help Jonny, the skill-set is very similar.
"He's great under the high ball, I thought his kicking game has been very good, and he's taken pressure off us rather than put it on us and that's what you want from your back-three players.
"I think he's been a real positive at 15 for us.
"Jonny's been very accurate when he's got into position, and he's also a real threat in an attacking sense, and could be a real threat on the wing too."