Gloucester Rugby: We need to perform against Munster, says Tom Savage
DO not let hard-fought Perpignan victory go to waste, calls Gloucester captain Tom Savage.
The Kingsholm skipper admits Saturday's 27-22 Heineken Cup triumph is progress but in no way masks the deficiencies of a difficult start to the new campaign.
Back-five forward Savage admitted he has "had enough" of the inconsistency that has ravaged the Gloucester ranks so far this season.
And the 24-year-old challenged Gloucester not to let that Perpignan recovery lull them into a false sense of security.
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Still fuming from home league defeats to Sale Sharks and Exeter Chiefs, former Hartpury skipper Savage warned any undercooked preparation this week will end in tears in Limerick.
Gloucester take on Munster in the white-hot Thomond Park atmosphere on Saturday (6pm) in their second pool six Heineken Cup clash.
Savage said Gloucester set minimum preparation standards for the Perpignan victory, which they must now sustain.
He explained: "So we made progress against Perpignan, we got back on track to a certain extent and we worked extremely hard to do that.
"But what would that mean if we were to let it go to waste in our next match?
"That entire process has to have started all over again this week.
"We can't just think we've cracked it, just because we won one game.
"All that hard work, that regular, consistent graft and preparation in mid-week – it's still there, it's still waiting for us all over again.
"We've got to stay focused, it's a performance we've got to back up, it is as simple as that.
"I've had enough of the inconsistency in the team, everyone's fighting for positions and you see the strength of the squad with Nigel mixing things up.
"But the standard we brought last week in battling to overcome the frustrations of Exeter, that's got to be the minimum.
"We've got to feed off their crowd and use it as a positive for us.
"Producing the goods at Thomond Park is an extremely difficult test.
"We've got to be switched on, we've got to get better again, we've got to raise the level further – and if we do that, then we can give ourselves a chance.
"If an away trip into that cauldron atmosphere at Thomond can't get us focused, then nothing can."
Savage started Saturday's Perpignan clash at blindside flanker after featuring at lock for the rest of the new campaign to date.
Rugby director Nigel Davies is still searching for his first-choice line-up, but has been crystal clear in the past on viewing Savage as vital within it wherever he starts.
The man himself is quite happy to keep switching between the second and back-row for now, but admits there will come a time to specialise in future.
Hailing vice-captain Billy Twelvetrees' ability to slot in at fly-half at the last-minute against Perpignan with Freddie Burns taken ill, Savage said Gloucester's pack could take a leaf out of the backline's versatility.
He continued: "I'm really enjoying that versatility still, building forward I guess I will look to nail one position down rather than the other.
"But for now I'm happy to mix between the two, and as long as I can get out there and lead the side in big performances, I won't be concerned what position I'm playing.
"I think where I end up will be coach-led to a certain extent, just determining where I can excel the most, I would imagine.
"There will come a point when we sit down have a chat and they say it's got to be one or the other I think.
"But we're not there yet and versatility and depth right across the squad is important, as evidenced by Billy slotting into the 10 role for Saturday's game at the last minute.
"He almost wasn't involved on Saturday, then he was on the bench, then he was playing at 10.
"It just shows how great those connections are in the backs, especially when a guy like Ryan Mills, who hasn't played a great deal of rugby because of injury, is able to slot in and play a big part too.
"Hopefully we can build something similar in the forward pack too.
"Millsy's got some of the best hands and skills you'll see, but at the same time he's a massive unit and he can carry and break tackles too.
"He carves up in training all the time, and now he's proved he's able to do it in the big matches like that too."