sport

Big expectations at Gloucester

David Humphreys is confident that Gloucester can deal with the huge weight of expectation on them this season after their extensive summer recruitment drive.

Gloucester endured a torrid 2013-14 campaign and finished a lowly ninth in the Aviva Premiership, leading to them parting company with director of rugby Nigel Davies.

Humphreys has succeeded Davies in the Kingsholm hot seat, and he has a remarkable array of talent at his disposal following the signings of a number of established international stars.

Wales duo James Hook and Richard Hibbard, Scotland's Greig Laidlaw, New Zealander John Afoa and England'sTom Palmer are among the new arrivals.

There is also a new-look team off the pitch with Australian Laurie Fisher appointed head coach, while Humphreys has also brought in former Wallabies defence specialist John Muggleton and ex-Gloucester and England prop Trevor Woodman, who looks after scrummaging work.

"When I first took the job, someone told me who had been here a long time that the expectation among Gloucester supporters is that they are going to win the league almost every year," said Humphreys during Gloucester's pre-season media day.

"So we've got to manage that and understand that is the environment we are coming into.

"Putting a team together is not as simple as bringing in good players and good coaches, and then hoping it all works. There is a certain chemistry that needs to be there.

"There has been a huge amount of work that has gone on in pre-season. Physically, the players are in great shape, but it is very hard to start talking about where we are going to finish and make predictions.

"If you look at the quality of player in the Gloucester squad, the quality of player that has been here for a number of years and then you add in the international-quality players who have been recruited over the last few months, there is no doubt it is a very good squad.

"But it takes more than that. If you look throughout the Premiership, a lot of the teams we will be competing with have also recruited very well and strengthened, so it is very hard to know where we are going to sit.

"By November, when we have gone through the first phase of Premiership games, that will give us a better feel of where we are and a better feel of what needs to be done and how we are going to do it."

Former fly-half Humphreys, 42, won 72 Ireland caps and captained Ulster to Heineken Cup glory in 1999, and Gloucester know they have recruited an individual of outstanding quality.

"This is a hugely-exciting and hugely-challenging move for me," Humphreys added.

"This opportunity came along out of the blue. I sat and thought about it for a couple of days, and it was a gut-reaction - it felt like a really big challenge.

"It's a fantastic place and everyone knows the history associated with this club. It is very similar to Ulster with a hugely-passionate following and for me this was an opportunity I felt was the right one from a family and rugby point of view.

"Laurie has got very clear views on how we want to play and there are very good players here who are able to adapt and are used to working under different coaches and playing different styles.

"A lot of new players have come in, together with seven new members of staff, and we are all hugely-motivated, ambitious and driven to bring success to this club."