Gloucester Rugby: Time to follow the leader - Hamilton's back
FIT-AGAIN Jim Hamilton can inspire an aggressive – but disciplined – attacking Gloucester performance at London Irish, tips Nigel Davies.
New Gloucester captain Hamilton is ready to return after the ankle problem that kept him out of Saturday's 24-19 Northampton defeat.
And Cherry and Whites boss Davies is excited to see the totemic lock slot into the Kingsholm club's front five.
Rugby director Davies said the humiliating 52-18 Madejski Stadium defeat on the final day of last term will not colour what happens in this weekend's return.
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Davies said Hamilton's red card for brawling with Irish hooker David Paice has been well-documented and accounted for – both inside the squad and out – and he does not expect it to affect this Premiership encounter.
Gunning for their first league win of the campaign in Reading on Saturday (kick-off 3pm), Gloucester are currently locked in their worst Premiership sequence since 1998-99.
Last weekend's Saints defeat tallies up at seven-straight league losses if incorporating the end of last term – a statistical mark, but not something to raise undue fears at Kingsholm, given the Davies revolution.
Backing Hamilton to lend a strong guiding hand to the Gloucester engine room, Davies admitted a disciplined approach is as much about being canny as being unruffled.
He explained: "Jim's fine, and raring to go.
"It's great to have him available, he's very influential within the group, he's a big character, he's a great rugby player, and he brings a real passion and pride to the jersey – and people will just follow that.
"We know that we have to go to Irish, play a very good physical game, but be very disciplined as well.
"They've got the capability to kick goals from anywhere: it's a small pitch, so discipline is vital.
"As far as last year goes, it was an incident, it happened then, these things happen occasionally in rugby, nobody condones them, but we've all moved on and it's not going to play a part from our point of view.
"Part of being a successful rugby team is being a bright rugby team, and that's dealing with all sorts of situations.
"I thought Northampton were very clever in some aspects of what they were doing last week, and we've got to be smart and clever as well.
"So that balance of being educated in what we need to do as a rugby team, in being aggressive, and also being clever and smart, is key to us.
"I'd like to think that we'd be quite smart this week."
Pleased with the resolve of his side to battle back into last week's clash, despite the eventual defeat, Davies said his Gloucester squad will never lack courage.
And if the Cherry and Whites can add accuracy and attacking sympathy to the equation, he said they will be well-placed to bring about a rapid transition to their new coaching set-up.
Admitting he will make several changes to his starting line-up this week, Davies continued: "We'll make a couple of changes this week, based on a few things, but based mainly on the fact that some people deserve chances.
"We're still working with the balance of our game, we worked hard to get our forwards into the game from an attacking point of view, and we'll look maybe to balance that out a bit now.
"There's probably five or six teams who are in transition in the Premiership this year, we'll be one of them and Irish will be another.
"So it's how quickly we all come to terms with the way we're going that will be important.
"This team will never play with fear, that's one thing we can all be sure of.
"We've started off with a pretty focused mind-set on how we play the game, but this week we hope to expand on that a little bit as well.
"The fact we were able to ride out that first half then come back into the game and give them a bit of a scare, that's testimony to the character of these players.
"That's one thing that will stand us in good stead, so if we can add more accuracy, game management and understanding to the situation, then that will put us in a strong position."