James Simpson-Daniel column: The Adventures of Sinbad
TWO games each year are without question our biggest challenges of the regular-season Premiership campaign: Bath at home, and Bath away.
We do not need any help getting motivated to play Bath, let me assure you.
When Nigel Davies took over last summer, one of the things he did in that pre-season was bring Terry Fanolua in to talk to the squad about what being a Gloucester player means.
It had a profound effect on the squad, for many different reasons.
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In this pre-season Nigel had a far better handle on the history and tradition of the club – he said so himself – and so he took control of those sorts of mental toughness plans, challenges and talks.
Once you get into the flow of a season I don't think you need external help with motivation for individual matches, or I certainly don't think that we do now.
And, to be honest, as professional rugby players if we couldn't get to grips with what a West Country derby means, understand it all and rise to the mental challenges, then we would be in trouble.
But just being around the guys this week, I know they understand what's at stake.
It doesn't come more tribal than this.
Bath at The Rec is something the supporters always look towards, and former players and people connected to the club will do likewise.
When you're in the middle, both teams have had that expectation building up all week, and so knowing you've got to meet that makes for some ferocious exchanges and physical battles.
When I first started at Gloucester I came straight out of school and if I'm honest I wasn't fully aware of the depth of tradition and history to the fixture.
All that changed when I was on the bench for the 24-18 victory in the Tetley's Bitter Cup at The Rec in 2000.
I read Andy Deacon's column earlier this week about his experiences that day, and I remember well him and other players giving away all their kit to supporters in the stands after the game.
My experiences were slightly different, in that I was an unused replacement and was disappointed not to get on.
It was great to soak up the atmosphere and appreciate what it was all about.
But you do still come away wishing you had been able to make more impact.
Still, that was Gloucester's first victory at Bath for 29 years.
I've been involved in some great wins down there in my time – we broke a long duck with an 18-3 victory on Friday, October 1, 2010.
The rain was teeming down and we produced a gritty, tight performance to secure a big result.
But for every success there has been our fair share of disaster and disappointment too.
And to be honest you can just never shake those.
All those experiences colour one of the greatest rivalries in English rugby.
I don't need to tell any of my squad mates about that derby intensity and history this week – I can already see the steel we need etched on their faces.