Keith Richardson column: Being dropped is every player's fear
NOTHING motivates a player like the threat of the dreaded drop.
There has been talk of Nigel Davies giving a bit of a boot up his Gloucester squad's backside in the last week or so.
The coach even named two different sides for the next Heineken Cup fortnight, ahead of last weekend's Perpignan match.
It does not take a degree in astrophysics to work out there was rumbling at the top.
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The mere mention of the drop tends to work.
Every player can become too comfortable – not intentionally – but the old-fashioned 'mucker' can hone an edge on a tool that is just getting a bit blunt.
It would be brave to drop a whole team, but players still need an occasional toe in the area where the monkey keeps its nuts.
Pre-match preparation is one of the most elusive ingredients in generating a winning performance.
The hour before kick-off can have a major influence on match events.
Sadly that recipe cannot be bottled, and the same concoction will not work every week.
So the coach has to be a bit of an alchemist along with everything else.
Nigel Davies had worked well at his bubbling bottles before Perpignan arrived at Kingsholm and the victory for Gloucester was welcome, remarkable and of the highest order.
No doubt the threat of the drop inspired the players, but that is only the start.
Self-respect and a determination to set the record straight will have been important after huge frustrations in home defeat to Exeter.
Maybe the first Heineken Cup challenge got the blood coursing through the veins. Or it could well have had something to do with Olly Morgan's farewell and him leading the team out.
Morgan was a truly inspirational full-back who had the uncanny and thrilling knack of seeming to collect all kicks when airborne – whether he or the opponents had kicked that ball.
His presence will have done no harm at all to a side facing what, on paper, looked a big ask. And perhaps there is another factor in the pre-match preparation that, linked with all the others, inspired a truly wonderful victory.
Tomorrow is an even bigger challenge against Munster on their own equivalent of Kingsholm.
The pre-match preparation will again be vitally important, but players visualising what led up to the Perpignan encounter will be no bad starting point.