Gloucester Rugby: Dan Robson ready to battle for scrum-half shirt at Kingsholm
ONE bad game and we know we will be dropped – but that's the way we want it.
Dan Robson admits Gloucester's scrum-halves relish the increasing half-back competition, especially their miniscule margin for error.
Robson, new signing Tavis Knoyle and World Cup winner Jimmy Cowan will fight it out for Gloucester's starting nine shirt this term.
Cowan was expected to take the first month of the season completing his recovery from anterior cruciate knee ligament repair surgery.
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But the 31-year-old All Black made his comeback in Gloucester's 28-17 pre-season defeat at Munster on Saturday.
Stoke-born Robson could have been forgiven for hoping to start the new campaign with a straight fight against 11-cap Wales half-back Knoyle for the starting berth.
Last term Cowan missed the first month of the season, as he completed his final commitments in New Zealand.
Robson managed to steal an early march over Dave Lewis and Cowan – but while there will be no repeat, the Gloucester academy graduate is unfazed.
The 21-year-old has now fully recovered from clean-up shoulder surgery, and put in a solid cameo at Thomond Park following an appearance in the World Club Sevens at Twickenham.
Gloucester host first Plymouth (5pm) then Scarlets (7.45pm) tomorrow night, in a double-header to test the entire squad and complete preparations before the Premiership opener against Sale at Kingsholm on Saturday, September 7.
Gearing up for his toughest tussle for match action yet, Robson explained: "It's great to see Jimmy back so quickly.
"Coming back from injury you always have doubts and niggles in your mind, but he's looking good straightaway and I'm sure he'll be relieved about that.
"I'm pleased too, because having Jimmy back there only makes us stronger.
"I'm just getting ready, I got 30 minutes at the weekend, and I'm just waiting for my chances to get out there.
"As a young nine you want that competition, you want people pushing you and pushing you.
"If you have one bad game there are plenty of others to come in and take your place.
"That's the strength we've got in the squad this year, which is massive.
"There's no margin for error, so there's certainly no shortage of motivation.
"It's great to see Jimmy and guys like Sinbad (James Simpson-Daniel) back on the pitch, they've been working extremely hard in rehab and to see it pay off is great.
"I felt strong out there on Saturday, and the confidence from playing in the sevens at Twickenham definitely helped.
"I got over that mental block of worrying whether the shoulder will hold up, and that's important.
"I felt fine going in and making full tackles, and hopefully I can put that behind me now and push on."
Admitting the time for experimentation is over, Robson believes Gloucester must go all out for two wins tomorrow night.
Gloucester will face a tough return to the Heineken Cup, when taking on Perpignan, Edinburgh and Munster in pool action that starts in October.
Robson said the weekend's Limerick trip has already whipped the Cherry and Whites up into a frenzy about their return to the European top table – and for their impending Munster return too.
He continued: "Results in these first two games weren't everything in our minds.
"The important thing was to make progress.
"On Friday it's two must-win games, though, especially at Kingsholm.
"We've got two games in front of our own fans, and we've got to take that momentum forward now.
"We need to take winning momentum into the start of the league season.
"If we can win these two games, then we can move past the points in the first two games that let us down.
"Everyone's excited about getting back to Kingsholm and putting on a show now.
"The Munster match has already got the boys a bit more excited for the Heineken Cup match.
"You want to be playing the best, that's the whole point of it.
"So we're thriving on that draw, and it will help us improve and move forward.
"It will be different when we go back for the Heineken Cup, buy by October we'll be ready."