Following two big Aviva Premiership Rugby scalps and boasting the best record in Europe, Tom Savage believes Gloucester Rugby are beginning to demonstrate their potential.
The Cherry & Whites endured an indifferent start to the season, while a new coaching team and a handful of signings found their feet at Kingsholm.
But with the turn of the year, Savage can see his side turning a corner, demonstrated by victories at high-flying Exeter Chiefs and at home to perennial Aviva Premiership Rugby title challengers Saracens.
A bonus-point win against Oyonnax followed that – securing Gloucester’s European Rugby Challenge Cup home quarter-final berth in the process.
And should they wrap up the pool stage with victory at Brive on Thursday night, Savage can look back on a near-perfect four weeks for his side.
“You are never too sure how it’s going to go,” said the 25-year-old of last summer’s Kingsholm upheaval.
“The only true test is coming up against the top two or three teams in the league and seeing how you go. The confidence is beginning to build and that is all it can take.
“That is just all coming off the back of the work the guys have been putting in during training. We are beginning to get to know each other and the system.
“We came off a couple of good wins in the Premiership and it is the end of a really tough block of fixtures. It was a big focus for us in the New Year.”
Victory against Brive will confirm Gloucester as the most successful side in Europe after this season’s pool stage – Racing Metro are the only other team to avoid defeat through five rounds, but the Cherry & Whites’ haul of 24 points is far superior.
And Savage insists they will not be letting up in their pursuit of top seeding, setting up the best possible run to the Challenge Cup final.
He added: “We have come up against a couple of tough French teams and an Italian one and done well and that is a record that we are really proud of.
“Knockout rugby is something we tasted a few years ago with a quarter final, which we lost. It is a different kettle of fish. It is a group of guys here who have been working hard for a long time and now we are really looking to push on.
“We know that we have secured that home quarter final but we are looking to get the best seeding possible in that. There is a big focus on this Thursday night, which will be a tough one. We all know how good French sides are at home.
“It’s probably going to be a forwards-oriented game and we are definitely not going to underestimate them.”
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