Dean Ryan believes the hype surrounding Gloucester’s exciting young England hopefuls is "distracting from reality" as his team look destined for an early Heineken Cup exit.
The form of players such as centre Anthony Allen and Olly Morgan could be recognised on Monday when England head coach Andy Robinson names his team and replacements for a Bonfire Night showdown with World Cup favourites New Zealand.
While Morgan might ultimately see his immediate Test match hopes ruined by a recurrence of shoulder trouble, Ryan claims speculation surrounding Robinson’s selection has now forced a reality check.
Gloucester’s 32-26 defeat against Kingsholm visitors Agen left the west country club with just one point from their opening two group games – and Ryan offered some blunt general observations.
"For the last few weeks, I have had nothing but headlines and phone calls, and all we are is what people saw against Agen," said Ryan.
"We are a young side that lacks physicality at this level, and we lost. The more headlines I see about that, the more realistic things will be.
"The hype about what we are producing is about the future, not the present. We’ve had hype about the England squad, and everything that goes with the package of external recognition is distracting us from reality.
"We will only know in the long-term if all this is damaging. It is a young side with a lot to learn, and this game showed that.
"If we want to compete on that level, our players need to recognise what is in the opposition team. That is why it was a very good reality check for us."
Centre Allen scored two tries for Gloucester, but Agen secured a bonus point to set up their home and away appointments with Leinster in December which should decide who wins Pool Two.