Gloucester Rugby: Nigel Davies - Standards were set in victory against the Saints
LUA Lokotui set his Kingsholm standard on Saturday – and the Cherry and Whites laid down a top-four benchmark too, believes Nigel Davies.
And now the Gloucester boss has challenged his charges to live up to their Northampton Saints victory – every week.
The former Wales centre hailed new second-row recruit Lokotui for hitting his Cherry and Whites straps in his third appearance for the club.
Joining a new club mid-season is never straightforward, and the 33-year-old Tongan lock needed some time to adjust after making the switch from Wellington Lions.
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But his bullish showing on Saturday confirms his frontline qualities, believes Davies.
After Saturday's resounding 27-11 Franklin's Gardens Premiership triumph, Davies said there are no more excuses for Gloucester now.
In jettisoning the hurt of 32-5 Bath humiliation, the Kingsholm men have rubber-stamped their play-off potential – and now must realise it.
Gloucester travel to Adams Park to take on Wasps on Sunday (kick-off 1pm), in the second of four crucial Premiership clashes.
As with Northampton, so the winners at Wasps will considerably improve their league play-off qualification chances.
Gloucester can leapfrog Wasps back into the top four with victory on Sunday – as Davies will keep reminding his players this week as he calls for consistency.
The ex-Llanelli boss explained: "We can't separate the importance of any of these league games because they are all so tough.
"With Wasps away next week, we had to take something out of these two matches, with our ambitions to be a top-four team.
"Only time will tell how important this result is: we have to realise that.
"And we have to realise we have to turn up like that every week, not every now and again because that won't be good enough to get us into the top four."
Imposing second-row Lokotui underlined Davies' faith in recruiting him on an 18-month deal in December to replace luckless Alex Brown.
Shoulder trouble has forced Kingsholm stalwart Brown into premature retirement – and Davies moved quickly to bring in Lokotui as replacement.
The former Stade Francais lock and Hawke's Bay skipper proved he is no stop-gap in the East Midlands at the weekend though.
Lokotui's domestic season in New Zealand's National Provincial Championship had been over for more than a month before he pitched up at Kingsholm in December.
Though pressed straight into service against Northampton and Bath in the LV=Cup, Davies said it was only Saturday's Saints return where Lokotui gave a true reflection of his abilities.
Davies continued: "I was delighted with Lua, he had been a bit rusty in the two previous games, but on Saturday he was excellent.
"He's a big physical presence, very athletic as well and with Alex not available he gives us an extra option, and it's one we've needed.
"It was hardly surprising he needed a bit of time to get up to full speed, but now he's shown exactly why we brought him here – and just what he can do.
"I think he adds a good balance in there, and this is just the start."
Pinpoint goal-kicker Rob Cook slotted six from seven shots at goal at Northampton, landing five penalties and a conversion for his 17 point-haul.
Rugby director Davies admitted Cook's prolific goal-kicking was central to Gloucester recruiting the full-back from Cornish Pirates in the summer.
But the 28-year-old from Lincoln has since proved a dependable option as both the last line in defence and a starting-point for counter-attacks.
Davies added: "We brought Rob in initially for his goal-kicking percentages, but Freddie has kicked so well this year he hasn't had many opportunities.
"But his all-round game has been very good too, he's been very solid and he looked very dangerous at times today.
"He's made the transition from The Championship very well, he's a very good character.
"He adds a good balance to our squad in terms of the age profile and experience."