New director of rugby, new head coach, and a host of new players – it’s safe to say Gloucester Rugby entered the unknown this season.
But back-row Gareth Evans says the club will be able to paint a clearer picture of which direction they’re headed in once they tackle a crucial Christmas block of Aviva Premiership Rugby fixtures.
Under new management duo David Humphreys and Laurie Fisher, Gloucester’s league form reads won four, lost five in a campaign full of peaks and troughs so far.
However, there are signs that the Cherry & Whites are ready to string wins together more regularly, building on an away win over London Irish with two back-to-back victories against Zebre in the European Rugby Challenge Cup.
Things will only get tougher over the next four games – starting with Bath Rugby on Saturday followed by clashes against Wasps, Exeter Chiefs and Saracens – and only then does Evans believe Gloucester can evaluate their campaign.
“Our next four games are against teams that are currently above us in the table, so it’s a massive chance for us to get some results and go up a few places,” he said. “We haven’t set a positional target but we can reassess the goals we set regarding top four.
“That’s the goal for everyone at the club and hopefully after this series of games we can reassess and see how we’re looking.
“We spoke a lot about momentum with two wins on the bounce and we’ve certainly built a bit of that.
“It’s put us in a really strong position in our pool in Europe as well, so it’s really good to get those results.
“We sat down at the start of year and said we were going to compete as hard as we can in all competitions, so to be in such a strong position in Europe is massive and gives us an opportunity to compete for another bit of silverware.
“It’s Gloucester against Bath so the mood is good, everyone’s really excited and it’s a big game. They’re doing very well in the Premiership and if anything we’re potentially going in as underdogs.
“But we feel like we can use that and there’s never going to be any shortage of passion and desire in a West Country derby, so it’s going to be a really good game.”
Evans will not be involved against Bath but is still easing his way back into full fitness after recovering from a knee injury.
He made his first start back in the game against the Exiles – putting in a performance that fellow back-row Matt Kvesic labelled ‘awesome’ – to bolster No.8 options at Gloucester which include England’s man of the moment Ben Morgan.
“I was very pleased with my performances, I’d been lucky that I’ve been given a lot of opportunities coming back from injury,” added Evans.
“It’s been really good getting that gametime and getting into the swing of things. I still feel like I’m on a bit of a learning curve but I feel like the games I have played have stood me in good stead.
“I get on well with Ben, being No.8s we do spend a lot of time comparing ideas, so it’s good to have a player like that around to pick their brains and improve your own game.
“It’s one of those things, it can only benefit both of us as players and the club if we’re constantly pushing each other to perform.”
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