Hazell has a crucial linking role to play
ANDY Hazell's return to the Gloucester ranks cannot come quickly enough.
Once upon a time teams all had specialist number sevens who were usually masterful at providing a real link between tackles and continuity.
They were generally smaller than the average forward but they seemed to have a sixth sense that honed in on where the game was going – not where it had gone and had broken down!
Gloucester are having to react too often at tackled ball when the skills and pace of the backline is screaming for quick possession.
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The stats will, no doubt, suggest that the possession was generally retained, but the quality of that possession does not quite match what is waiting in the backline.
Coaches are between a rock and a hard place on this.
But even if the answer is to go for earlier recycled ball through a traditional type of seven, do those players exist at the top level?
We had the scare a few years ago about the dearth of home-grown props and the howls of outrage seem to have done the trick with more decent props.
The academies need to hastily start a conveyor belt to churn out English sevens. Or try to get Richie McCaw's agent's phone number.
The scoreline against Mont de Marsan looked convincing but the performance would not have made good viewing for Nigel Davies and the coaching team.
Gloucester started well, went to sleep and managed to wake-up to light the blue touch paper with 20 minutes to go.
In the first period of wakefulness, there was an object lesson in rugby's handling skills when Gloucester produced two passes in what looked no more than a five metre blindside to send Jonny May in.
The blindside, is the hardest area of the pitch to defend but May still had a lot to do to ensure that he got the try.
The Cherry and Whites had plenty of possession but all too often they were profligate as it was not used effectively to sustain attacking pressure.
It is one thing to get away with it against a side languishing in the danger zone in the French top league – it will be quite another matter to escape and win easily against tougher nuts.
After about half an hour you could almost feel the game ebbing away and focus diminishing.
Nick Wood did his level best to introduce a wake-up call with a 34th minute tackle on his own 22 that probably made sure that the French recipient had to book a dental appointment for new fillings.
Then he had the audacity and effrontery to sprint 30 metres to do it again. But the message was not getting through.
It did improve, but that change took a long time coming and the visitors were not quite as alienated and beaten as they might have imagined on the way to Luton airport.
Gloucester seem to be on the horns of a common dilemma in the Premiership.
The accepted mantra seems to be that might is right so you go for dynamic meat on the hoof that packs a big (metaphorical) punch.
Akapusi Qera is the perfect blueprint of this modern forward, but might there not be a need occasionally for a more subtle set of skills from a totally different type of player?