"A Lot of High Profile Players" - Gloucester Coach Skivington Recognises Sharks' Threats for Challenge Cup Final - Ruck

“A Lot of High Profile Players” – Gloucester Coach Skivington Recognises Sharks’ Threats for Challenge Cup Final

By George Davis

Gloucester could benefit from a boost in personnel this Friday, with the return of Adam Hastings and Santiago Carreras to Cherry and White. However Gloucester head coach George Skivington also recognises the threats his opponents will bring, as his side take on the Springbok-stacked Hollywoodbets Sharks, in the EPCR Challenge Cup Final.

George Skivington, Head Coach of Gloucester Rugby during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Gloucester Rugby and Exeter Chiefs at Kingsholm Stadium on October 29 2021 in Gloucester, England. (Photo by Tom Sandberg/PPAUK)

The Sharks travel to London off the back of an impressive 32-31 victory at the Twickenham Stoop over French giants Clermont. The South African side are able to boast multiple world cup winners across their 23, the likes of Ox Nche, Bongi Mbonambi and former world player of the year winner Lukhanyo Am just some of the star-studded names in their squad.

The Gloucester head coach is wary of the threats the Sharks bring with them in their maiden European voyage, however, saying that his side will do “all they can” to bring home their third Challenge Cup trophy.

“They have got a lot of high-profile players, a lot of individuals that can do things out of nowhere.

Eben Etzebeth of South Africa during the Autumn Nations Match between England and South Africa at Twickenham Stadium on 20 November 2021. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

“That goes as well from backline, wingers to (Eben) Etzebeth in the second row and world cup winning front rowers,” said the former London Irish forwards coach.

‘They have got a lot of guys who can change a game in a moment, and we have to be as ready as you can be for that.

“We have to trust in our process, we have got to trust in what we do and when we get that right we play good rugby and feel pretty good. Sharks are a huge opposition, many household names in there.”

Hastings hasn’t played since the start of May, when Gloucester played Benetton in the Challenge Cup semi-final. the fly-half scoring a try in the 40-23 win against the Italian side. Carreras returns for his first action since March, after the club revealed he had appendicitis, but both internationals trained last week and will train this week as well.

Adam Hastings of Gloucester Rugby during the European Challenge Cup match between Gloucester Rugby and Benetton at Kingsholm Stadium on May 4th, 2024 in Gloucester, England. ( Photo: Geraint Nicholas/PPAUK )

Despite the big names possibly returning, Skivington is still conscious of the importance of the week, following a subpar Premiership season.

“From my point of view, at the beginning of the season you want to play in finals and to be more competitive in the Prem, we weren’t. Ultimately we get to play in a final, and that’s why rugby players do what they do, and I think we have got a really exciting game at the end of the week,” added Skivington.

“It’s one of those where we are going to do everything we can, the objective is to bring more silverware to Gloucester and that will come with the emotion, pressure and all the rest of it.

George Skivington, Gloucester Rugby Director of Rugby during the Gallagher Premiership match between Exeter Chiefs and Gloucester Rugby at Sandy Park, Exeter on 19th Nov 2023. Photo: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

“You have got to throw everything at it and what comes out of it, comes out of it. Obviously we have put our eggs in the basket of going to these two cups and that’s why it makes it a big week for us.”

Despite the world class players in their squad, their league season has left little to be desired as they currently sit 13th in the URC, allowing Skivington to draw parallels between the two this year.

“Like us their league campaign hasn’t gone to plan so both teams have a lot to play for. We both would be disappointed with our domestic campaigns,” said the head coach.

“There are only a few finals you can get to, we can’t get to the Prem, they can’t get to the URC, so we meet in Europe. But they will be good, and they will be ready as well.”