Despite sitting in the bottom half of the Aviva Premiership Rugby league table, wing Charlie Sharples believes Gloucester Rugby are not far short of where they feel they belong.
After lifting their maiden title in 2002, Gloucester finished first in the regular season table in three of the proceeding six years, also tasting European and LV= Cup success in that time.
But the Kingsholm Stadium crowd have had less to cheer about in recent seasons, finishing ninth in two of the last three campaigns.
The Cherry & Whites are eighth ahead of the weekend’s clash with reigning champions Northampton Saints, yet under the stewardship of David Humphreys they are showing signs of a return to past glories.
Since the turn of the year Gloucester have registered narrow wins over Exeter Chiefs and Saracens, while they also lost by just three points to Leicester Tigers and threw away a 10-0 lead against Wasps most recently to fall to defeat at the Ricoh Arena.
And Sharples, in his eighth year with Gloucester, wants his team-mates to give that extra 10 per cent required to improve their consistency.
“We’re not far away from where we want to be as a club, but the biggest thing is getting there from where we are,” he said.
“It’s all very well losing by two points and saying how well we played, but we’re still losing. That’s sport, that’s rugby, it’s about being on the right side of fine margins.
“We have showed with impressive performances what we are capable of, we just need to stick at it, get a few wins to climb the table and build some form.”
One player with more reason than most to put in a stellar showing against Northampton this weekend is Jonny May.
The wing was omitted from the England squad for their Six Nations defeat to Ireland, despite a commendable start to the championship.
And having been in his shoes, Sharples backs his team-mate to knuckle down with Gloucester and force his way back into the England set up.
“Jonny was a little disappointed when he came back, which is understandable,” he added. “I have been there before and he will ultimately become a better player for it.
“He has the chance now to remind everyone of his talents in a big year for international rugby and I’m sure he still has a role to play for England.”