The sign of any good team is the strength of their bench and Gloucester Rugby flyer Charlie Sharples is hoping that depth will deliver success for his side.
It is season two under David Humphreys’ regime at the Cherry & Whites and their mission is to crack the top half in Aviva Premiership Rugby after a promising, if inconsistent, first year.
In the first block of league games, victories over Newcastle Falcons and rivals Worcester Warriors sandwiched a nerve-shredding defeat to champions Saracens.
The 23-3 loss to Wasps was a sore one but Gloucester bounced back to record European success over Zebre and La Rochelle.
And with the likes of Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw and Argentina lock Mariano Galarza on the bench for tonight’s clash against Northampton Saints, Sharples says there is no doubting the strength of the squad.
“This season we have made some good signings to add to some young guys who have come through,” said Sharples. “We are not doing too badly with injuries at the moment and that’s allowed us to rotate the team and give the guys some rest and others some game time.
“We need a quality bench to be successful in this competition and we have got that at the moment. Bringing in those calibre of guys on, who can contribute to the game in a similar way as the starters, is a great thing to have.
“It’s pleasing to see, and to go into this game off the back of two wins gives us confidence.
“I’m really positive about the future of the club and this year we have had the luxury – if you can call it that! – of an extended pre-season.
“That’s what we need having so many changes last year, it gave us more time to gel and lock down all the detail and hopefully that will have paid dividends with all the hard work that has been put in.”
Tonight’s trip to Franklin’s Gardens could go some way to assessing Gloucester’s credentials this year – Northampton beat Pro12 champions Glasgow Warriors handsomely last week despite three defeats out of four in Aviva Premiership Rugby so far.
It is a similar type of challenge to their last league game at Wasps, who went on to dominate the European headlines with triumphs over Leinster and Toulon.
And Sharples added: “We were off the mark a little bit against Wasps, we were frustrated with our performance and the inability to get something on the board.
“But we look at how Wasps have developed over the last two weeks in Europe and they’re looking like one of the best teams about, so we have to put it in perspective.
“We know we weren’t at the top of our game and we have to improve.”
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