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Premiership Rugby

Looking to the Final

A Gallagher Premiership Rugby ball

Boer, who has captained the 'Cherry and White' juggernaut in the absence of regular skipper Phil Vickery, sees the Final as "a mini-competition" on its own, despite his side having totally dominated the 22-match Zurich Premiership League.

"It's a knockout game," says Boer, "it's all down to which side wants it more. We won't change our pre-game approach for this game. We'll do what we've done all year long. If we take our foot off the pedal we'll come unstuck."

Boer was quick to add this his side would be more than up for the Final, especially against a Wasps side that did well to see of Northampton Saints -Gloucester's victims in the Powergen Cup Final – in the semi-finals on Saturday.

"I tipped Wasps to come through [to the Final]," he says. "They're a good all-round side and Saints were missing a few of their top players.

"The Wasps forwards have been going well of late and their backline, with Stuart Abbott leading the charge, has also been firing. Wasps were full value for their win over Northampton, in fact, I thought they should've won by more.

"Finals rugby is all about taking your chances. That's we'll be hoping to do at Twickenham."

For Boer and his Gloucester team-mates, the trip to Twickenham will be their second of the season, having played at HQ in April when they beat Northampton by 40-22 in the Cup Final.

"I'm sure we'll have plenty of support there," starts Boer. "Our fans are fanatical, they're great, and I'd imagine that a lot of them will make the trip to Twickenham.

"We've drawn the home dressing-room again, as we did for the Powergen Final. It will be a case of retracing our steps, but I can tell you we won't be relaxing out there. We are desperate to mark our second trip to Twickenham with a win. It's always exciting playing there."

One concern that Boer has ahead of the Zurich Final is Gloucester's recent lack of fixtures.

After wrapping up the regular Premiership season with a 31-13 win over Leicester Tigers on May 10, the 'Cherry and Whites' have not played since then, while Wasps played in their Zurich knockout semi-final at the weekend, and they have the Parker Pen Challenge Cup Final against Bath this Saturday.

"It's been frustrating," admits Boer, "but more because it's been such a long wait. The guys are really looking forward to the Final.

"That last win over Leicester was important for us," he continues.

"Leicester are still a great side, they're the defending Heineken Cup and Zurich champions. Earlier this season we lost to them at Welford Road and we knew then that we could beat them this year. It was important for us to beat a great side like the Tigers.

"At Gloucester we love that winning feeling and it's hard for us to lose. We lost our second-last match against Leeds on May 4, we were determined to win the last one."

Boer also believes that his side can take a leaf out of Leicester's book when approaching the Zurich Final. Despite not qualifying for the play-offs, Martin Johnson's side had won the Zurich Premiership title three times in a row up until this season.

"The key to their success is their consistency," says Boer.

"They've had the same high-quality players to choose from and they've had the knack of winning the games that count. My personal recipe for success is exactly the same as that. If you are consistent you will achieve something and playing with niggles robs of you that consistency."

Next Saturday's match will also be something of an emotional affair for the Gloucester boys, with two key members, hooker Olivier Azam and fly-half Ludovic Mercier, bidding the 'Cherry and Whites' adieu at the end of the season – both players returning to France.

"Olivier and Ludovic have been great for us," says Boer, "we really want to give them a good send-off.

"Ludovic's boot has seen us through the odd tricky situation in the past," adds Boer. "His decision [to go back home] was a tough one, but he felt that his chances of being selected for the French side were better if he was playing at home."

Although Boer skippered Gloucester to Powergen Cup glory, fit-again tighthead prop Phil Vickery, who will be leading England into battle against the Barbarians on Sunday, May 25, is expected to take over the captain's arm-band from Boer for the Zurich Final.

Not that it bothers Boer at all: "We're a team of captains. It's great having Phil back, he leads by example and, naturally, he also boasts our front row resources. He helped me when I was captain and I'll do anything to assist him too during the Final."



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