Adventures of Sinbad: Crucial weeks, Cowan and Kingsholm
James Simpson-Daniel's weekly column: The Adventures of Sinbad.
Brought to you in association with rugby charity Wooden Spoon
TRUST is everything, and Nigel Davies has bestowed it on the Gloucester squad in spades.
There are changes for tonight's opening Amlin Challenge Cup match at Mont de Marsan, and quite right too.
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Six games into the season, a fair number of players have been involved in the majority of the action, and rotation is important to keep players fresh.
At the same time winning is vital, and we need to keep that momentum going now we have found it.
The Amlin offers an avenue back into the Heineken Cup next season for the winners.
Let's not get ahead of ourselves and start talking about a strong run in the competition – but there are massive incentives, and we fully appreciate them.
We've just got ourselves into a reasonable pattern of results, but our performances are still not where we would like them to be.
So here's the perfect chance to do something about that.
And that's where that trust comes in. Those players that take the field in France tonight are the men entrusted with taking our development forward as a squad.
These two weeks of Amlin action could be pretty important to our season overall.
If we could secure two good results, maybe we could consolidate our start to the campaign, and then look to build from there.
So this is not a match anyone is taking lightly: it's time to build habits and improve our shortcomings.
KINGSHOLM HAS TO BE USED
ORGANISERS would be mad not to tap into the famous, passionate and unbridled Kingsholm atmosphere for the World Cup.
This city loves rugby, lives the sport entirely, and the supporters here would thoroughly get behind any teams that played at Kingsholm in the competition.
No doubt the ground would be packed to the rafters, and I am sure any players in the world would love the chance to experience playing a World Cup match at Kingsholm.
The Gloucester supporters would get stuck into it, I think, because of their general enthusiasm for rugby.
I can imagine the Cherry and Whites fans adopting one of the teams or something similar, and all-round I just think it would be a great thing for the city and for the club too.
So I sincerely hope it happens.
JIMMY HAS QUALITIES TO BE BIG HIT
BIG-NAME signings are always exciting.
The supporters get a buzz, the press are always intrigued and new arrivals always freshen up the squad.
Jimmy Cowan might be a ‘big name’, but he comes across pretty low-key – and I definitely mean that as a compliment.
Like a lot of Kiwis, he just gets his head down and gets on with it – because that’s what he loves doing most.
Big names are exciting, as I say, but quality must always come first.
Throughout a squad you always need a balance of different styles of players at different stages of their careers and with different profiles.
But whoever comes to Gloucester, passion, commitment and quality are three vital commodities they must bring with them to succeed.
It’s extremely early days for Jimmy, of course, but I don’t think he’ll ever lack grit or determination.
Making a debut in a victory over Bath is hardly a bad way to start your Gloucester career either, and hopefully now he can kick on from there.
He’s settled in very well, he’ll work closely with our other high-quality nines Dave Lewis and Dan Robson (above), and it will be exciting to see him in full flow once he’s had a bit more time at the club.
So Camelot didn’t come good over in France, but at least I’d broken my duck the week before.
This might be slightly obscure, but in tomorrow’s football World Cup qualifier, back Luxembourg to beat Israel at 10/1 – but also back the draw in the same match at 6/1.
If either come off, it’ll be a tidy profit.