Always Up For It

BOUNCING off the walls in the changing rooms to get psyched up might seem a bit old-school in the increasingly-professional rugby world.

But we’ve talked at length this week at Gloucester about how important that build-up can be for us.

We’ve looked closely at what it takes for us to produce the right attitude, intensity and passion.

And while it’s not the right preparation for everyone, there’s a good nucleus of us who know we’ve got to pump ourselves up with a few head-butts and a bit of effing and blinding.

Quick-thinking and composed backs like Freddie Burns and Henry Trinder will probably have plenty of other things on their mind, trying to keep calm and go through their gameplans.

But for some of us boys in the pack, you would think we were prepping for a fight sometimes.

And that’s a good thing, because at Gloucester we always need that pride and passion: without it there’s no point pulling on the shirt.

There’s a point in the build-up to any match when if you stumbled into the changing room and you had no idea what was going on, that you would make your excuses and vanish.

Guys will be relaxed while they change and get joints taped up – but there’s always a point where collectively we switch on.

It’s nothing too tangible, but there’s always a clear shift in mood.

I’m a bit of a shouter, and our captain Luke Narraway willbe vocal too.

Club stalwarts Andy Hazell and Pete Buxton always speak passionately and honestly about the deeper significance of representing a proud city and a club with vast heritage.

They get fired up and emotional, it’s hearts-on-the-sleeves stuff and you could never doubt that it’s genuine.

Nick Wood isn’t a big talker but he’s always ready to go, and Akapusi Qera is constantly laid back until the last minute, when he rolls onto the pitch and smashes through brick walls.

Despite Friday night's memorable win over Toulouse at Kingsholm, our narrow 20-14 loss at Harlequins the previous weekend ended our hopes of Heineken Cup progression.

So from now on, in the league and LV= Cup, we've all got to take a leaf out of Alasdair Strokosch’s book, a man who is always up for it, every week no matter what.

He never says a word in the build-up – all you have to do is look into his eyes and the intensity screams volumes.

How we each get to that point is not important – the fact that we all do is vital.

Read more from Jim Hamilton on Living Rugby; you can follow him on twitter @jimhamilton4

Read our Gloucester Rugby club page for our ground guide, news and links to buy tickets.

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