Ryan sees league success in European failure
February 20, 2009
Gloucester Head Coach Dean Ryan is aiming for Guinness Premiership success © Getty Images
Guinness Premiership leaders Gloucester travel to face Harlequins at the Twickenham Stoop on Saturday confident that their failure in the Heineken Cup can boost their chances of league success.
Gloucester are currently four points clear of nearest rivals London Irish and Head Coach Dean Ryan believes that his team's response in beating both Irish and the Sale Sharks since their elimination from European competition has been crucial in their Premiership charge this season.
"What has pleased me most in the last fortnight has been our willingness to demand something from ourselves physically and mentally that has helped us turn a bit of a corner," said Ryan. "We are building some momentum and have been really energised in the last few weeks.
"That has been fundamental to us recently and we want to continue that tomorrow against a very good side.
"Harlequins have proved over a long period of time they are a very good team who have been able to adapt to different conditions and competitions."
England loose-forward Luke Narraway starts on the blindside while the Italy captain Marco Bortolami returns to the second-row in the place of Will James in the most notable changes to Gloucester's team.
Harlequins, who are fifth on the table, are all to wary of the threat posed by Ryan's Gloucester team and sees them as favourites now to win the title.
"You don't get to the top of the Premiership, at this point in the season, unless you are a side who consistently perform week in, week out," said Harlequins Director of Rugby Dean Richards.
"And although Gloucester prove each season how strong a side they are, they tend to be the team that is always the bridesmaid and never the bride.
"This season, they will be desperate to get some silverware in the cabinet."
For Quins, Mike Ross returns from international duty to take his place in the front row, with Mark Lambert moving to the bench. David Strettle also returns to the starting line-up, and Ugo Monye takes his place on the bench.
Harlequins: Brown; Strettle, Tiesi, Turner-Hall, Williams; Evans, Gomarsall; Ceri, Botha, Ross, Kohn, Robson, Robshaw, Skinner (captain), Guest
Replacements: Croall, Lambert, Evans, McMillan, Poluleuligaga, Malone, Monye
Gloucester: Balshaw; Sharples, Trinder, Barkley, Simpson-Daniel; Spencer, Lawson; Wood, Titterrell, Somerville, Bortolami, Brown, Narraway, Hazell, Delve (captain)
Replacements: Azam, Dickinson, Eustace, Satala, Lamb, Allen, Foster
They came to Murrayfield looking to put down a marker, but Scotland were sent home with their tails between their legs, writes Tristan Barclay
The controversial tackling technique will be in full swing in Dublin on Sunday, writes Conor O'Shea, and could be a decisive factor for Ireland
"This team deserves to be recognised as the greatest of all time." Huw Richards looks at Gareth Edwards' final match for Wales