Greig Laidlaw is relishing the responsibility of captaining Gloucester Rugby but knows he needs to lead by example and ensure the team is not caught standing still this season.
The 30-year-old was handed captaincy duties this summer, taking over from England centre Billy Twelvetrees.
It is the latest chapter in the Gloucester journey for Laidlaw, who joined the club from Edinburgh in 2014 before helping them win the European Rugby Challenge Cup.
Results so far this campaign have been mixed with the Cherry and Whites’ first win not coming until their third game against Sale Sharks, while last week they crashed at home to Newcastle Falcons.
But Scot Laidlaw, capped 53 times by his national side, believes his side must not lose focus, as they work towards the bigger picture.
“I enjoy getting the best out of the group and myself but I need to make sure my own performances are right too,” said Laidlaw, speaking at the launch of this year’s Aviva Community Fund alongside team-mates Ross Moriarty and Billy Twelvetrees.
“In terms of the camp as a group we need to move forward this season. It will be a definitive season for us. At the moment I’m developing a new leadership group and helping the team move forward on the field.
“I love it down here – I am glad I moved because I wanted to play in challenging games. We are keen to be the best, which is what playing in the Aviva Premiership is all about, and I want to be the best I can be.
“The scope for points every week is massive. We went down to Leicester and got two points with four tries and a losing bonus point and a couple on the road at Worcester. If we take points from away games and win at Kingsholm that will be massive.
“There’s no bad teams in the Aviva Premiership. We need to understand that and the whole squad needs to be ready.”
The Aviva Community Fund is a nationwide initiative that lends a helping hand to local communities by offering support and funding for inspirational local causes, clubs and projects.
It has already benefited over 320,000 people, through 431 winning projects across the UK, and this year, local grassroots sports clubs can apply or reapply for funding in a new, sport-specific category.
And Laidlaw says the memories he accumulated at the grassroots level of the game will live with him for a long time.
“It’s massively important. Ultimately that’s where the next generation of international stars are coming from,” he added.
“If they start by enjoying their rugby and if they have positive nights, it makes them stay in the game and it will make the game better in the long run.
“I have some great memories. I grew up in a small town of four thousand people and the rugby club was a huge part of the community. I was there from about seven years old; it was a big part of my growing up.
“I enjoyed the challenge of making myself better and my family were involved in it too.”
For Laidlaw, the next two months playing time with Gloucester will also be vital in building towards this autumn’s international matches with Scotland.
Clashes against Australia, Argentina and Georgia lie in wait in November with the Scots aiming to keep closing the gap on their English counterparts who won this year’s Six Nations, while a coaching change will come next summer with Gregor Townsend taking over from Vern Cotter.
“It’s going to be a big year – there’s no denying that. We have shifted forward in terms of the team, we went well in the World Cup and improved in the Six Nations,” added Laidlaw.
“Going forward this season there’s changes coming with Vern Cotter leaving after the Six Nations.
“It’s going to be hugely important in the Autumn Internationals; there’s three big games. If we can take confidence out of that we want to finish as high in the Six Nations table as we can.
“We are focused on making sure Vern has best send-off we can. Vern will be right on it until the last minute, he’s really excited and driven to win every game.”
Premiership Rugby and the 12 Aviva Premiership Rugby Clubs are supporting the Aviva Community Fund, a nationwide initiative which offers funding of up to £25,000 to grassroots sports clubs and other community organisations close to your heart. Enter at aviva.co.uk/community-fund from September 13.