Premiership Preview: Gloucester
Last Season: 9th
Top Tryscorer: Charlie Sharples (11)
Top Pointscorer: Greig Laidlaw (159)
Last year proved to be a season of ups and downs for Gloucester. Their league campaign, which resulted in a third ninth-placed finish in four years, left a lot to be desired, but their Cup form was nothing short of outstanding. In the midst of another mediocre league campaign, their European Cup adventure captured the imagination of the local public and ended fittingly with a memorable 19-13 Final triumph over Edinburgh.
There were clear signs of ability within the Gloucester ranks last year and, with a host effective tools at their disposal, another year of league mediocrity would frustrate fans once more, so improvement will be expected, and possibly needed, this season.
The Coach: Laurie Fisher
Fisher has one of the most varied CVs in the Premiership and has an array of contacts and experiences to call upon when times are tough. After a promising first season in charge at Kingsholm brought Gloucester’s first silverware in a number of years, the foundations are in place for a better year as he embarks on his second season at the helm.
Ably assisted by the likes of Nick Walshe and Jonny Bell, the Aussie chief has assembled a fine set of backroom staff, now it should be the time for their players to deliver on the domestic stage.
Key Man: Jonny May
A local hero in the South West, May laid out his commitment to the Gloucester cause by signing a long term deal in October last year. By his high standards, he suffered a disappointing campaign last year, but showed flashes of brilliance when allowed to shine – which was better, his try against Connacht, or his try against New Zealand?
The Swindon-born flier has age on his side at just 24 and has the potential to be consistently world class – this could be his year. But keep a keen eye on Ross Moriarty – he could be a star.
Prediction: 7th, marginal improvement
Despite their best efforts, the strength of the Premiership in the current day is hard to match. They enjoyed a remarkable period in the 00’s, winning three titles in six years, but have been left behind in the modern era. Teams like Exeter have firmly established themselves as top-level forces and the top six has become notoriously hard to break into. Though a Champions Cup place is not beyond them, it will probably be one step too far. Odds for Title: 40/1.