Gloucester Rugby: The team has to come first - Carl Hogg
PUT the team first: that's the message to the Gloucester stars desperate to prove their first-team credentials at the Ospreys on Friday night.
Carl Hogg has told Gloucester's players fighting for first-team chances not to get carried away as the Cherry and Whites step into LV=Cup action at the Liberty Stadium (kick-off 7.45pm).
Forwards coach Hogg has confirmed Gloucester will select a squad similar to the line-up that battled past Mont de Marsan 11-6 at Stade Guy Boniface in the Amlin Challenge Cup on October 11.
Fit-again centre Drew Locke is in line to make his first team debut, with the likes of Tim Molenaar expected to be involved too.
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Hailing Gloucester's strength in depth, Hogg said players handed chances to impress in Swansea this weekend must not focus on trying to progress their own claims.
He explained: "One of the main things we'll be telling the players this week is that the team comes first.
"People are desperate to do well as individuals: but we need to play well collectively.
"Decisions must be based on the team first.
"If the team performs then as an individual they have a platform to perform themselves.
"And that's vital we get the correct mindset: team first, then the individual can function within that.
"It's about performing your role in the side, and everyone should have a clear vision of what's expected of them.
"And it's for the players to go out there and show that.
"This group of players have already shown us they are more than capable, they have shown us through the A League games and the away game in Mont de Marsan.
"So they fully deserve an opportunity on Friday night.
"A lot of guys have contributed in a big way to the success of our season so far.
"Anything we've achieved we've done so as an entire squad, not just the players that have been involved in each specific game.
"This will be a similar group to the players who went to Mont de Marsan and battled hard for a good victory over there.
"The French side were very physical, and it will be another similar challenge at the Ospreys on Friday.
"We've every faith in this group, they've worked really hard and they have an opportunity on Friday night."
Any Wales-England confrontation carries added spice, and Hogg admits the home side will be gunning for national as well as local pride.
No doubt the fact Nigel Davies' son Sam, a Wales Under-20 cap, could be involved adds another frisson to the contest.
Add in rugby director Davies' first return across the border since leaving the Scarlets and a trip back to old stomping ground for defence coach and former Swansea forward Paul Moriarty – and the intrigue only builds still further.
Former Scotland back-rower Hogg knows all about the desire to put one over on the English – but said the Cherry and Whites must try to remove all of that from the equation.
Hogg continued: "It's a huge traditional rivalry between Welsh and English sides, but for us it's about maintaining our momentum as a club and a team.
"Ospreys present a different challenge with a blitz defence and they are very active around the breakdown, but it offers an opportunity for us to go down and play our game.
"We need to be really clinical, especially in the first 20 minutes.
"We'll need massive physicality and intensity and I think for the majority of the season we've done exactly that.
"Our team this year has displayed a huge amount of resilience, intensity and physicality, and we expect that from the group on Friday."