Gloucester Rugby: Hazell calls for calm, then tries will come
WORK smart as well as hard and Gloucester will solve their early-season shortcomings, believes Andy Hazell.
The evergreen openside flanker revealed Nigel Davies did not tear into his players in the wake of Saturday's 16-16 draw at Worcester.
Rugby director Davies instead praised the Cherry and Whites for their commitment – but outlined how quicker and more shrewd onfield decisions will drive them into greater form.
Wily 34-year-old back-rower Hazell remains Gloucester's premier breakdown battler.
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Admitting new boss Davies' Kingsholm influence has given him a new lease of life, Gloucester-born Hazell said he expects a season-long tussle for starts.
Lamenting Gloucester's inability to grind out victory at Sixways, Hazell said the Cherry and Whites must sharpen their minds for Wasps' visit to Kingsholm on Saturday (kick-off 3.15pm).
Hazell explained: "We've just got to get stronger tactically.
"We're coming away from home and as a squad we're expecting to win, and that's improvement.
"Nigel said he couldn't fault the commitment or the work-rate, but that now we need to get smarter.
"The urgency was great, but we've got to wise up a bit.
"He didn't tear strips off us and I think that will have gained a fair bit of currency with the players.
"So now it's up to us to respond and do what he's asking, because he's right.
"We could have beaten ourselves up after the game, but that might have proved counter-productive.
"Instead we've focused on the root of our problems, and hopefully now we can start cutting them out.
"Nigel's completely different from any coach I've had before.
"It's re-energised me and I'm absolutely loving it.
"Q's pushing me all the way there and I'm trying to push him too.
"It's healthy competition and I'm really happy.
"Every back-row player we have has completely different strengths.
"And that's a massive bonus for us, and it will definitely help us approach all the different challenges we'll face this season.
"It's going to be quite tough for Nigel in terms of selection I think, and we'll definitely make it as tough for him as we can from our point of view."
Had Gloucester converted a gilt-edged scoring chance at the death of the first half on Saturday, Hazell believes the Kingsholm men would have eased past Worcester.
Arch finisher James Simpson-Daniel's natural instincts deserted him though, as an admittedly-poor pass slipped through his hands.
Demanding a more canny approach against Wasps this weekend, Hazell continued: "We messed up a try in the first half at Worcester, and in the second we got scrappy and let it fall into their hands.
"That's the way it goes in rugby, a man like Sinbad will probably not let one of those through his hands ever again.
"But in all fairness it wasn't the greatest pass.
"We had ten minutes of pressure there and they were ready to break.
"That was the key time of the game I think.
"It was frustrating, but at the end of the day it wasn't a loss.
"The first half against Northampton wasn't good enough either, so we're back at home and we want to put things right really.
"We've got to make Kingsholm a fortress, and that starts now.
"It's our home, it always adds spice and we've got to defend the honour and pride that goes with playing at Kingsholm.
"We've got to live up that and do it justice.
"We didn't quite manage that against Saints, so there's plenty of motivation this weekend."