Gloucester Rugby: Shane Monahan and Jonny May suffer injury woe
WINGERS Shane Monahan and Jonny May will miss the start of the Premiership season after suffering painful dislocations in Friday night's defeat in Toulon.
First Monahan dislocated his shoulder, then May his elbow.
Both can expect extended lay-offs, leaving Gloucester boss Nigel Davies with an immediate injury glut – less than four weeks before the Premiership season kicks off.
Gloucester were outgunned six tries to three by the reigning Heineken Cup champions at Stade Mayol in their first pre-season clash on Friday.
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Masterful inside back duo Jonny Wilkinson and Matt Giteau shredded the Cherry and Whites at will in the first 20 minutes, before Davies' men clawed respectability.
The Kingsholm men were outclassed 42-17, but two tries from Henry Trinder and one for debutant Tavis Knoyle kept any shame in defeat at bay.
Gloucester do not start their league season until hosting Sale Sharks at Kingsholm on Saturday, September 7.
But after just one warm-up match Davies and his coaching team find themselves confronted with injury headaches.
Davies would have been hoping to step into the new campaign wrestling with exactly who would start in his pace-rich back three.
Now those selection luxuries will have to wait, while Monahan and May recover.
James Simpson-Daniel and Charlie Sharples sat out Friday's Toulon clash, but they can now be expected to fill Gloucester's two wing berths come the start of league action.
Martyn Thomas captained Gloucester to JP Morgan Premiership Sevens victory at The Recreation Ground on Friday night.
The Welshman has looked sharp in the early pre-season stages, and will be another vying for a back-three berth.
Frustrated Davies conceded both Monahan and May are likely to face extended absences.
He explained: "We'll just have to wait and see what kind of timescale we're looking at for both. They will be assessed further this week and we will take it forward from there.
"But I think it's fair to say neither injury will be short term.
"It's disappointing to pick up injuries, especially at this stage of proceedings.
"We can't hide from that, though, and we just all feel for Shane and Jonny.
"They have both looked sharp in training and showed up well out there on Friday, so it's hugely frustrating for them after working so hard in the pre-season up to this point and being ready to get going in matches."
Had Friday been a Heineken Cup clash, Toulon would have claimed the try bonus point inside half an hour.
Virgile Bruni, Maxime Mermoz, Josua Tuisova and Delon Armitage all plundered scores as the home side ran amok.
But Gloucester hit back through Knoyle and Trinder, for some kind of foothold.
After the break the hosts eased to victory, with tries from Steffon Armitage and Danie Rossouw.
Trinder had the last word with a well-taken try from replacement Johnny Bentley's smart crossfield chip.
Davies was upbeat despite the scoreline chasm – challenging his players to learn from this European yardstick.
He continued: "It was always going to be a huge challenge for us, it really highlights the quality that's out there in Europe and what we're up against.
"They got on the front foot very easily, we struggled to do that, and that was the difference.
"Their offloading game was extremely good, and they have a lot of quality players able to exploit that.
"They were very adventurous and played from deep.
"From our season preparation point of view, though, I'm very pleased with the game – it has shown us exactly the standard of the best teams in Europe.
"It's important for the players to experience that first half, because they can go away and reflect on that and what we need to improve to match that level.
"There won't be many sides that will play that type of rugby and cause those sorts of problems, but it's fantastic we've experienced it.
"I'm extremely proud of my players, they stood up to things well.
"We were exposed in a couple of areas, but that's what we wanted."
The Gloucester players who travelled to the Tignes training camp and Toulon will now have a week off.
The sevens squad will take on the inaugural World Club Sevens tournament at Twickenham this weekend.
Gloucester's England men will join a training camp with Stuart Lancaster's Elite Player Squad this week.
Davies added: "The highest priority in pre-season is the conditioning.
"Matches are important, of course, but conditioning is everything and we have to make sure we're looking after the players properly.
"After eight days' seriously testing training in Tignes – when the boys were doing four sessions a day – and the Toulon match, it is vital they rest and recover.
"That will allow them to reap the benefits of that sequence, before we move forward again, to Munster and beyond."