With all the injuries to the squad, the last thing that Gloucester supporters wanted was to hear that the eargerly-awaited Australian centre Jason Little needed surgery. Little, who will arrive in Gloucester on September 18th, is the man that many fans think will bring the Cherry and Whites their first league championship. But Team Manager John Brain this evening played down the significance of Little’s absence.
“The injury to Jason Little is not such a blow, its one of those injuries you get when you play lot of rugby, just like the one that Richard Tombs had. Jason has already had the operation and its put his start date back a couple of weeks.”
The win over Newcastle was enjoyed as much by the coaching staff as it was by the fans and Brain had particular praise for Andy Gomarsall, “He is a very good professional, he works very hard, he is a leader and makes good decisions on the pitch. If the forwards are firing then he is the ideal man to take advantage. He is a very good acquisition for us.”
[Gomarsall: “very good professional”]
He revealed that Gomarsall’s return to the fray came a week earlier than expected, “He would probably prefer to have delayed his start, to perhaps this match with Bath. But we explained we had a crisis and he didn’t take much persuading. He’s the sort of scrum half who has all the right sort of qualities and its good to see we can attract players of that calibre.”
Canadian international Dave Lougheed was impressive in his first match and there’s no denying his pedigree – he’s really a local lad according to Brain. So it’s no surprise that Gloucester want to keep him.
“We’re trying to secure Dave Lougheed on more permanent basis. We’ll know more after this weekend and thats as much as we could say,” said Brain, “He might be a Canadian but he’s definitely a Gloucester player! There’s no nonsense and no frills but he’s very effective. And just to clear up something I saw on the website, he has an English wife.”
Brain believes that they way that Gloucester respond to the kicking game will be crucial to their success, “We’ve got to kick well and chase very well, recover it, force lineout or scrum, if we kick, we must kick well.
[Lougheed: A proper Gloucester boy]
He added, “Territory and kicking is a big part of rugby, won with that in mind, field position very important, you have to kick to the right area and chase well. The ideal kicks are the ones that stay on the pitch and the kick is only as good as the chase. We had good blanket chase on Wednesday.”
Brain compared this weekend’s opponents to Saracens and came up with some worrying conclusions, “Bath and Saracens have very strong attacking potential and spend lot of time in possession. The stats show that those two teams have the best attacks in league. At Saracens we spent 30 mins with ball and got nothing – they had it for three minutes and we lost the game.”
One thing is certain. You won’t be seeing a return to the ‘good old days’ of ten man rugby although Gloucester won’t be emulating the Barbarians just yet.
“We’ll be looking to play a fairly uncomplicated game and get the set pieces right, but it won’t be ‘up-the-jumper” stuff at all! If the weather is wet though, then there will be a lot of play in and around forwards,” was Brain’s description of Gloucester’s planned tactics.
He added, “I’m sure that Bath will be looking to gain more width, particularly from first phase. So what we’ve got to do is look after the ball.”
© Kingsholm Chronicle 2000