Gloucester face salary cap predicament
The Cherry and Whites have been one of the bigger spenders in the Premiership so far this season, securing the signings of Franco Marais, Jaco Kriel, Matt Banahan and Danny Cipriani for the next campaign, none of whom will arrive at Kingsholm cheaply.
They are also believed to be in advanced negotiations with Rohan Janse van Rensburg and Francois Mostert of the Lions, Munsters Gerbrandt Grobler and, per the GloucestershireLive report, Lions prop Ruan Dreyer.
Working in Gloucester’s and Director of Rugby's David Humphreys’ favour is the fact that there is a high turnover of staff this season and several highly-paid players will be leaving the club. Kiwis John Afoa and Jeremy Thrush are both departing from Kingsholm, as are the Welsh pair of Ross Moriarty and Richard Hibbard, Scotland international Matt Scott and a number of fringe players from the senior squad.
This will create some leeway in the cap for next season, as well as, in theory, opening up at least one marquee player spot, making Humphrey’s job a challenging one, but not an impossible one.
This offseason marks a notable change in strategy from Humphreys and Gloucester, who have previously recruited prodigiously from the Pro14, following Humphreys appointment as Director of Rugby in 2014.
The plan had been for the likes of Hibbard, Scott, Afoa, James Hook and Greig Laidlaw to provide Gloucester with the extra quality and consistency required to challenge for the Premiership title, but come the beginning of next season, none of those players will still be on the books with the Cherry and Whites.
Since Johan Ackermann's arrival as head coach, the plan has clearly changed to targeting South African players to supplement the squad at Kingsholm, with Ruan Ackermann already on board, as well as the confirmed signings of Marais and Kriel.
Should the singings of van Rensburg, Mostert, Grobler and Dreyer all go through, too, that will take the tally of South Africans at Gloucester to seven, with five of the seven having played key roles in the Lions' resurgence under Ackermann.