CHARLIE Sharples insists the fresh start that both he and Gloucester have gone through this summer was exactly what was needed after a disappointing end to last season.
It is all change at Kingsholm this campaign following last year’s disappointing ninth finish, with Nigel Davies replacing Bryan Redpath at the helm and new faces like Ben Morgan and Billy Twelvetrees now in the mix.
And although the former Wycliffe student was one shining light in an otherwise poor Gloucester season, he too ended on a low note as he missed England’s tour of South Africa through shoulder surgery.
However the off-season gave both Sharples and Gloucester time to heal, evident with the Cherry & Whites booking their spot in the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Premiership 7s Series Finals on Thursday night on front of the Kingsholm faithful.
And although Sharples sat out the clean sweep of Exeter, Worcester and old foe Bath, he insists he can’t wait to get back to action to add another fresh face to a much-changed Gloucester outfit.
"There have been a lot of changes at Gloucester this season," wing Sharples said.
"There have been changes in the playing department but also new coaches coming in.
‘It’s kind of a fresh start and everyone’s keen to put what happened last year behind us - obviously it was a disappointing season for us - and look ahead for this season.
"It’s going really good with the new boss - Nigel’s come in and I’ve been really impressed so far. He’s been good; he’s not been running us too hard.
"Obviously I’m looking forward to getting back in the mix. It was disappointing to miss the summer tour, but I needed to get my shoulder done.
"It was tough watching the boys on TV but I’d already accepted the fact that I wasn’t going to be able to play and there was no point me being out there, not being fit. I wouldn’t have done myself any favours and I wouldn’t have done the team any favours.
"Last year I didn’t get much rest because I went through the World Cup camp, so it’s nice to get the time to just refresh.
"It gives you the enthusiasm to come back and I’m chomping at the bit to get back in and playing some rugby with all the new guys."
Gloucester now travels to the Rec on August 3 to take on London Irish, London Welsh, Saracens, Sale and Bath in the 7s Finals.
And after emphatically booking their place in the showpiece, Sharples is backing Gloucester’s young guns to go all the way after being impressed with their opener.
"We picked a really good team and we’re looking good," he added. "The guys have been doing a bit of practice out in Tignes on our pre-season, and it’s looking good so far. Ian Clark’s looking pretty sharp so far.
"We play this kind of game anyway, but we’ve got loads of gas out there - the only thing they’re struggling with is the running around because obviously there’s not quite as much running around in 15s so they’re all blowing a bit.
"They’ve done really well so far and it’s a good chance for guys like Jonny and Trinder to have a run-out and chuck the ball around - and for the young guys coming through like Clarky to come out and put a marker down."
TO book tickets for the J.P. Morgan Premiership Rugby 7s Series Final on Friday, 3 August at The Recreation Ground, Bath, call 0844 448 1865 or visit www.bathrugby.com/tickets