Adventures of Sinbad: Andy Hazell, squad rotation and Bordeaux
James Simpson-Daniel's weekly column: The Adventures of Sinbad.
Brought to you in association with rugby charity Wooden Spoon
WATCHING Gloucester take on Mont de Marsan from home was unusual – but not unnatural.
Normally when you're watching your team on the TV it's due to injury.
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This time it was because Nigel had switched around selection, rested a few players – but also sent out a squad strong enough to win in France.
That's an ideal situation to have, where we can shift things round, use the strength of our squad - and produce good wins in tricky circumstances.
It could have felt like a bad thing to be left at home – but Nigel's influence has meant it felt pretty normal.
Keeping as many players fresh but also in match-fitness and form is a challenge for the coaching staff, but I think they're doing a great job of that so far.
You always want to play every game, but watching from home, I was confident the boys would get the job done.
It was tight, but it was another win closed out – and another test of character negotiated well.
It might have been a break from rugby for me, but I was looking after my son as it gave my wife the chance for a few days' away.
It was great fun spending so much time with the little man, and my mum came down too – but I was shattered by the end of it!
The full squad did all the preparation for Mont de Marsan, then several players who didn't travel had some time to rest.
After that you're itching to get stuck in again, and it's amazing the difference one match out of things can do – especially for the guys in the pack, who don't have to deal with those car-crash collisions.
A few days off to recharge the batteries certainly helped refresh some of the boys, and now we're back into things and ready for Bordeaux.
LET'S HOPE FOR A QUICK RESOLUTION
ANDY Hazell is absolutely gutted.
He totally regrets losing it in France and getting sent off in last week’s 11-6 Mont de Marsan victory.
He fully accepts it was wrong, he knows he will be punished, and he has no excuse.
He texted me after the game saying how embarrassed he was about it all, and obviously we’ve spoken about it since.
He was provoked – I won’t go into the details on that as I wasn’t there – but he also knows that does not excuse what he did next.
Anyone who has played with, knows Andy or has watched him play over a number of years, they all know he is not the type of character to do something like that.
It was certainly out of character but by the same token, that’s how he acted in the heat of the moment.
And now all he can do is wait for his punishment.
From a fellow player’s point of view, in this situation you just hope for a swift resolution, to be able to handle it all and move on.
HOPEFULLY WE'LL AVOID STING
A WASPS style of old certainly runs through the Bordeaux side.
It’s hardly surprising given ex-Wasps forwards Joe Worsley and Raphael Ibanez are central to the Bordeaux management team.
That means they are very technical in their approach, and especially where the breakdown is concerned.
They are very physical and they perhaps approach things in a slightly more English style.
So we know we’re going to be in for a real battle at Kingsholm tonight.
Yes Bordeaux suffered at the hands of London Irish last week, but they will be out to atone for that.
They will be desperate for a victory here, and it’s up to us to contain them as a starting point, then look to get into our wide game, if the weather allows.
WELL after my Luxembourg shocker last week I’m a desperate man.
So I’ve got to go for Frankel in his last race at Ascot’s Champion Stakes on Saturday (4.05pm).
He’s unbeaten, this is the big farewell for him – so fingers crossed!