Jason Woodward fully focused on Worcester despite the lure of an Exeter Chiefs double header

GLOUCESTER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 16: Jason Woodward of Gloucester Rugby looks on during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Gloucester Rugby and Leicester Tigers at Kingsholm Stadium on November 16, 2018 in Gloucester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images)

Worcester are the visitors to Kingsholm this weekend in the final round of Gallagher Premiership fixtures before heading back into European affairs. Full back Jason Woodward has talked about the disappointment of losing to Exeter and how Gloucester plan on putting it right against Worcester. 

Woodward fully focused on Worcester

Despite an Exeter double header on the cards in the coming weeks Gloucester full back Jason Woodward is fully focused on Worcester and the task they’ll bring. Reflecting on last weekend’s loss Woodward said,”We’re pretty frustrated because we there were things we set out do in the week and after 20-30 minutes we hadn’t quite done any of them. There’s definitely responsibility on us players part to go out there and execute the game plan, but we’ve got them three times in the space of a month and we’ll just move on to the next job.”

”At the moment we’re fully focused on Worcester and you just take it week by week.”

Cherry and Whites need to capitalise on territory

Gloucester have started superbly in their last few games, but couldn’t make it tell against the Chiefs. Despite a strong and dominant opening 25 minutes and numerous visits into the hosts 22 they didn’t score a try for the first time this season.

Woodward insists this is what they have to change if they’re to compete for the title saying, ”We can take positives from the whole game, but there were some things specifically to do with our game plan that we didn’t get right. We definitely had a lot of possession and opportunities to execute, but we didn’t convert when we got into their 22. There’s a few things to work on this week going into Worcester.”

Worcester set to bring a physical challenge

Looking ahead to the Worcester game Woodward said, ”They’ve been playing some really good rugby lately. They are a really decent side and like to attack from anywhere as they’ve got some really good strike runners. They’ve got a good ten who can control the game well with a good kicking game. They can put pressure on you in multiple different ways so we’ll have to be on our top game this week.

Gloucester certainly know how to put teams away at Kingsholm and they’ll rely on that as Worcester head into the tie on good form. ”That’s definitely something Gloucester have been getting better at in recent seasons. When we do get into the period where we’re up by a try or two then putting the foot on the throat. They will put a lot of pressure on us and our set piece and phase play. We’re just going to have to be on the money.” Said Woodward.

”You want to finish this block of fixtures with some momentum. The top two sides are a fair way ahead right now so getting a win this week will be huge in terms of going forward and keeping that momentum into Europe.”

Closing the gap on Exeter and Saracens is hard, but not impossible

As Gloucester fell to fourth in the table and the gap separating Saracens, Exeter and then the rest of the league increased to 14 points it’s been questioned whether sides like Gloucester can close that gap.

Woodward isn’t worried about the gap and believes it isn’t that wide saying, ”There wasn’t really that much of a difference in that game. We didn’t really make them work too hard for their tries. One being a beautiful cross field kick and the other being an interception. For the rest of the game we had most of the ball so if we can find a way to not have those lapses and put pressure on them for a full 80. Then when we do get into their 22 then we need to score some points.”

Gloucester a dream to be part of when it clicks

”When everything clicks as an individual it’s easier to go out there and focus on your job. If we get those little things right then it makes everyone’s job easier so we’re looking forward to getting those things right. Said the 28 year old full back.

”When this team gets it right it’s some of the most fun rugby you can have. You can have a few jokes on field, everyone feels relaxed and calm. When we’ve got the ball everyone is having fun and conversely when things aren’t going right you can see the team controlling our emotions and focusing on the job in hand.

Woodward and Gloucester ready to push on

Talking about Gloucester pushing on this season and ensuring top four and even becoming title contenders Woodward said, ”We have to. I think we made some good strides last year in terms of attacking and really putting teams away when we get into the last 10 or 20 minutes. The club has recruited really well this year. We’ve got some really good boys in who have added lots to the environment. We’ve teed ourselves up to have a good season and taking it forward and taking each game as it comes.”

England summer role a ”good experience” for Woodward

Having gone on the summer tour with England Woodward feels it fine-tuned his game plan and put him in good stead for another season with Gloucester saying, ”That was a really good experience. It was a huge honour being in that environment and it was a lot of fun going on tour with those boys.

One of the key things was you just have to take your opportunity and execute because they are very limited at that level. I was frustrated not to get a run, but taking those learnings and bringing them back into this environment then it’ll go a long way to us finishing top four this season.

”Everyone’s got their work-ons and I’ve definitely got a couple myself. I’ve spoken to the coaching staff here on a few things that I need to work on, but the main thing is being consistent in performances and delivering a top performance every week.”

Duncan Weir’s threat needs to be nullified

Worcester fly half Duncan Weir poses not only a strong leadership, but also a powerful running game and skilful kicking game. This will push the Gloucester defence to their max and Woodward explains just how difficult it can be to play against. Saying, ”Worcester are an awesome team when they get front foot ball. Setting up a good wall in defence, getting off the line quickly and cutting their time down with the ball and cutting their space down as well.

”We’ll stay connected in defence and when we get to the point where we’re happy without the ball we can really put teams under pressure. That’s when Gloucester plays their best rugby. We’ve got a really good attack and our defence is really good at times and if we can defend really well then it’s going to put less pressure on our attack.”

Jake Polledri back a massive boost

Following the end of the autumn internationals the international players have joined back up with their squads and Jake Polledri will offer a great morale boost the Gloucester setup. ”It’s good to have Jake back, he obviously had a big loss on the weekend, but he’s in good spirits. He’s had fun and he’s learned a lot so it’s great having him back.” Said Woodward.

South Africa international Franco Mostert will also play his first role in a Gloucester shirt following World Rugby’s quick response in making him available.

Main image credit: Embed from Getty Images


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