Head of Academy Richard Whiffin, who is in charge of the Gloucester team in the three week Premiership Cup window has stated he intends to use the full squad available to him as the side prepare to face Bristol Bears.
Short turn around not an issue for inexperienced side
Despite a short turnaround ahead of Friday’s game Richard Whiffin insists his side have not been affected. He’s been pleased with his team’s quick reaction into focusing on the next game, saying, ”They were sore as it was a physical game, but they were incredibly pleased with their performance. It’s been a tough start for those guys, we’ve had an incredibly young side out in the Premiership Shield and I was pleased for them that they managed to have a full week and prepped really well and then put in a complete performance on Saturday in front of what was a really good crowd.
The whole experience for them was huge.”
Improvement ahead despite easy win
Despite the relatively easy win Whiffin and his team aren’t resting on their laurels. ”We spoke in the review earlier this week that the first 20-25 minutes was perfectly executed. We stuck to our game plan and when they did have a yellow card we were outstanding in finding space and executing into it. The back 55 minutes was the area we focused on in terms of can we put an 80 minute performance together and if we did the score would have looked a lot different.
That comes back to there being a lot of young boys making their debuts, the weather wasn’t great and there was some skill errors. I was just happy that for 79 minutes of the game we shut them out. It was a shame we let them get a try at the end, but in general our defensive collisions and threat on the ball caused Wasps problems.”
Experience invaluable as game plan set to stay the same
Gloucester limited their senior player selection against Wasps offering the week off for many of its first team squad. However, having a few injections of senior players undoubtedly helps the debutants in Whiffin’s mind. He said ”They’re more engaged and feel a proper Gloucester player now they’ve had they’ve had their senior debut. It’s been a short week, but training was intense that we’ve just finished now and players have put their hand up for selection.
With squad selections varying from club to club within the competition it could be easy to get mixed up with chasing a cup and forgetting the developmental role it can play.
Gloucester are keen to ensure this doesn’t happen by sticking to their initial three week plan. ”It doesn’t change what we’re going to do, we’ve had a plan for this three week block and we’ve stuck to it. Bristol were reasonably strong last week and at home they’ll put a decent team out.
These three games will stay as they are and we’ll see where we are at the end of that and hopefully we’ve got a shot to go through to the knockouts. That may well determine the strength of the team for that Bath game.”
”Lloyd [Evans] took a bang to the shoulder in the first minute so he did really well to get to where he did. He seized up at half time, it’s just a stinger and it’s just how he recovers in the next day or two. It’s a shame as he orchestrated that first half really well and he showed his class in the first 30-40 minutes.
Owen Williams is available this week. Last week he had the week off like a lot of the other senior players albeit he hasn’t had a massive amount of game time. He’s done every single session and been in since early July for pre-season and it’s always been the plan for him to have the week off and now he’s back in contention.”
New signing Franco Mostert is officially joining up with the club on Thursday, but despite reports he’ll get his first sight of Gloucester action, Whiffin insists that isn’t the case. ”No chance, he’s not been in the building yet. He won’t be playing with us.”
Jaco Kriel is in contention though and may be looking at his first minutes for a while, ”Like we said last week, Jaco is back training and was one of the guys that was back in contention. We’ve got to be careful with the injury he’s coming back from so his involvement going forward will be heavily managed and controlled from above.
Willi [Heinz] is back on the field doing his own stuff, some skill stuff. Paddy McAllister is back and working through his rehab program. They’re both moving around and hopefully they’ll be back soon.
Kyle Traynor is on a week-to-week basis (Due to international call-up possibility, not injury). He’s settled in really well, he’s a seasoned pro and has helped out massively and will be involved this week.”
Richard Whiffin utilising full squad for Bristol vs Gloucester
On the possibility of seeing some new, fresh debutants against the Bristol Bears, Richard Whiffin said, ”No, last week was as young as we could go. We do have an opportunity with it being half time of having U18s this week that have been in training and in and around the setup, travelling and seeing how it’s like being a senior professional.
Most teams will gradually gets stronger as we go through the comp and ease back towards the Premiership. Most senior guys had a week off last week, but everyone is back in this week. The balance is tough, but the younger guys training with the older guys will only speed up their development.
We were always making certain subs, but with a couple of injuries the younger guys got some more game time and we lost some shape and balance in the game, but off a back of a win we can see how they can improve if they’re in that situation again.”
Gloucester take on the Bristol Bears at Ashton Gate this Friday following last week’s win over Wasps.
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